While visiting his youth basketball school in Beijing yesterday, Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming did not deny rumors that he is putting together a bid to buy the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, currently embroiled in an ownership scandal.
Yao's bid, reported yesterday on ESPN.com and in local newspapers, is to buy the franchise whose fortunes have reversed in recent years, stealing some of the thunder from cross-town rivals LA Lakers with star power from Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
The Clippers's octegenarian owner Donald Sterling has been embroiled recently in a scandal over racist comments he made on a recording of a conversation with his 31-year-old alleged lover V. Stiviano. This has resulted in a lifetime ban from the NBA and numerous calls for him to sell the team. While a sale has not been mandated or guaranteed, bidders are already lining up.
Yao will certainly have financial support from investors in NBA-crazed China. Should a sale to a Chinese investor group go through, it would be the first Chinese-owned franchise and another great leap forward in the internationalization of the ownership of NBA franchises -- the Brooklyn Nets are owned by Russian billionare Mikhail Prokhorov.
Yao is not alone in his interest in buying the Clippers. Also rumored to be interested, according to ESPN, are former NBA All-Star Grant Hill, Oracle's Larry Ellison; former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; and Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
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