Basketball icon Magic Johnson, whose photo op with a girlfriend of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling purportedly sparked a racist outburst by Sterling, could be in the market for the team if it's up for grabs, two reports said Monday.
The Hall-of-Famer and former Los Angeles Laker would be interested in buying the Clippers with billionaire backers Guggenheim Partners, with whom Johnson teamed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers for more than $2 billion in 2012, Yahoo Sports
"Magic's absolutely interested," another source told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night, noting that, if successful, Johnson would own two championship contenders in the Clippers and Dodgers.
"This is 100 percent Magic's plan," that source told Yahoo Sports.
But the Los Angeles Times
reported the Clippers aren't for sale – yet.
"It’s a non-story right now," an unnamed source told the Times, adding, however, that Johnson has talked about owning a National Basketball Association franchise previously and still has a stake in the Lakers, serving as an unpaid vice president since selling his approximately 4 percent ownership share in 2010.
The ironic turn came just two days after a recording surfaced
in which Sterling purportedly scolded a girlfriend for posing for pictures with Johnson. The audio also was peppered with derogatory remarks about blacks – setting off a tsunami of criticism and an NBA investigation.
The former ESPN analyst Sunday night begged new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to "come down hard" on Sterling, the Times reported.
"He shouldn't own a team anymore," Johnson said on ABC, the Times reports. "He should stand up and say, 'I don't want to own a team anymore,' especially when you have African-Americans renting his apartments, coming to his games, playing for him and coaching for him. This is bad for everybody. This is bad for America. I'm really upset about it."
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Monday that he "took a pass" on talking to Sterling about the incident.
"I don't think right now is the time or the place, for me, at least," he said. "I just took a pass."
Rivers added that he believed it was Sterling on the audio.
The coach had canceled practice Monday, a day after a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors that evened the teams' playoff series at 2-2. But he said it was a "non-basketball decision" that would allow his players to catch their breath. He added he would talk to the players, however, to "make sure they are in the right place."
Meanwhile, lawyer Michael McCann, founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, wrote for Sports Illustrated's website
that it's "well known that some league officials and owners would like to see Sterling leave the NBA."
"Sterling has faced accusations of racism for years, including having to defend a housing lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice," he wrote. "The NBA also knows that wealthy NBA fans like Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen — who sought to buy the Kings and relocate them to Seattle — would jump at the first chance to own an NBA team."
But he said ejecting Sterling "is unlikely to happen."
"The NBA's constitution, which is confidential, reportedly contains language permitting owners to authorize the league to sell a team without an owner's consent," he wrote.
The NBA hasn't announced any punishment for Sterling, but any penalty could include suspension – and Manning suggested the NBA could also encourage him to sell the team, which he estimated could be worth more than $700 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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