LOS ANGELES — With their owner barred for life from the NBA, the Clippers suddenly find themselves in a profoundly unfamiliar position: They are the toast of the town.
Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs said he wanted a piece of the team. David Geffen has said he wants to buy the Clippers. Judd Apatow joked that he and Don Rickles should join forces to bid for them. Magic Johnson may swoop in and buy the team. But not if Floyd Mayweather can get there first.
Oprah Winfrey is in discussions with Geffen and Larry Ellison, according to Nicole Nichols, a spokeswoman for Winfrey. Billionaire entrepreneur Eli Broad, a former co-owner of the Kings, might join others in a bid for the Clippers, Karen Denne, a spokeswoman for his foundation said.
When NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that he was imposing a lifetime ban on Donald Sterling, the longtime owner who was recorded making racist statements, Silver said the league would try to force Sterling to sell the team.
The prospect of an auction will almost certainly create a feeding frenzy, with offers flying in both in jest and not, for the most coveted commodity in professional sports: a competitive team in a major market.
"I am now declaring my intent to buy the Clippers," comedic actor Mindy Kaling tweeted. "The uniforms will be the same but bedazzled."
Owners ponder next steps: The NBA owners' 10-member advisory/finance committee scheduled a meeting today to discuss the next steps in the removal of Sterling. That would require the support of three-fourths of the league's owners in a vote. Numerous statements of support have been released by teams. Minnesota owner Glen Taylor chairs the committee, which also includes Miami's Micky Arison, the Lakers' Jeanie Buss, Oklahoma City's Clay Bennett, New York's James Dolan, Boston's Wyc Grousbeck, San Antonio's Peter Holt, Phoenix's Robert Sarver, Indiana's Herb Simon and Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive expects a unanimous 29-0 vote to force Sterling to sell: "The owners are amazing people — they're color-blind."
Reaction from Europe: Critics have long accused soccer leaders of being too soft on teams with racist fans. To some in Europe, the swift rejection of Sterling by NBA players, executives and owners served only to highlight the lack of resolve by soccer officials. The two most powerful men in soccer — Sepp Blatter, president of international governing body FIFA, and his European counterpart Michel Platini — both said Wednesday that they approved of the action taken against Sterling.