Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty
By Benjamin Snyder
May 30, 2014

Steve Ballmer. Larry Ellison. Oprah Winfrey. David Geffen. These billionaires have something else in common besides a cumulative net worth to make anyone jealous.

All have reportedly submitted bids for the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team after the NBA ordered owner Donald Sterling to sell the franchise for racist comments recorded by his girlfriend.

Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft (MSFT), has reportedly placed a $1.8 billion bid after meeting with Shelley Sterling, the owner’s estranged wife, on Sunday. Meanwhile, the duo of media executives, Geffen and Winfrey, along with Oracle (ORCL) CEO Ellison, have together put in a competing $1.5 billion offer, according to an anonymous source from Reuters.

If accepted, Balmer’s bid on the Clippers would be the second-highest price paid for a U.S. sports team. In its report, however, Forbes, citing a person familiar with Ballmer’s plans, failed to mention whether or not Ballmer has bid alone or with a group.

To further complicate the details of the bidding war, the Reuters source, “who had no direct knowledge of Balmer’s intentions,” said that the ex-Microsoft chief had not placed a bid on the team.

Meanwhile, Sterling’s lawyer Max Blecher told ESPN on Tuesday that his client would “fight to the bloody end” and that he “disavowed” the arrangement in which his wife, Shelly, was put in charge of the sale. But an attorney for Shelley Sterling said that she is currently working with the NBA directly, with assistance from Bank of America (BAC).


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