Who would want to buy the Phoenix Suns?


As the NBA season kicks off next week, one of the most pressing questions in professional basketball is who will be the next owner of the Phoenix Suns.

The team’s current majority shareholder, Robert Sarver, said on Wednesday: he sells the franchise along with Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. His announcement comes a week after an NBA investigation found it that Sarver used racially insensitive language, made sex-related comments to female employees, and repeatedly berated other Suns and Mercury employees. Sarver, an Arizona real estate developer, has been banned from the NBA for one year and has been fined $10 million.

It’s rare for NBA teams to go on the auction block. If they do, they bring in a lot of money: Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 for $2 billion; Tilman Fertitta bought the Houston Rockets in 2017 for a record $2.2 billion; Joe Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 for $2.3 billion; and the Minnesota Timberwolves were sold to Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez for $1.5 billion last year.

The Suns, that Forbes appreciated at $1.8 billion, will likely attract bids of at least $2.5 billion, experts told CBS MoneyWatch. That’s because Sarver is selling two teams, both with strong fan bases and championship aspirations.

“NBA teams are not just rare trophies, they are high-profile assets that are measurably valued over time,” said David Carter, a professor of sports affairs at the University of Southern California.

But whoever ends up buying the Suns must first complete a months-long application and vetting process that starts with a $1 million application fee. The NBA will then conduct a thorough analysis of the buyer’s financial history, including an examination of business transactions and relationships, potential conflicts of interest and personal history, Carter said.

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A committee of current NBA owners will ultimately determine who will buy the Suns. Until then, here’s a list of potential bidders who might be interested in buying an NBA team. LeBron James, who has said he aspires to buy a team someday, has been banned because NBA rules prevent him from doing so while continuing as an active player.

Bob Iger

The former CEO of Walt Disney is on a list of wealthy individuals who could try to buy the Suns, ESPN reported Wednesday. Iger, who retired from Disney in 2020, has not publicly expressed an interest in buying an NBA team.

"The King's Man" World Premiere - Arrivals
Bob Iger attends the World Premiere of “The King’s Man” at Cineworld Leicester Square on December 6, 2021 in London, England.

Karwai Tang

However, Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca approached Iger earlier this year to see if he would be interested in helping him buy England’s Chelsea football team. Illustrated Sports.

Since leaving Disney, Iger has… joined a New York venture capital firm. Of Forbes estimated his net worth at $690 million in 2019, he would probably have to partner with other investors to buy the Suns.

Larry Ellison

Ellison, the co-founder of software maker Oracle, has long sought an NBA franchise. In 2010 he has offered $350 million for the then New Orleans Hornets, but was outbid by the late Tom Benson, who also owned the New Orleans Saints.

A year after the Hornets fragrance, Ellison tried to bring in the Golden State Warriors by bidding north of $450 million. Although he was with the last bidders for the club he lost to venture capitalist Joe Lacob. In 2012, Ellison Tried To Buy The Memphis Grizzlies but lost again, that time to Ubiquiti Networks founder Robert Pera.

Ellison hasn’t thrown his hat in the ring for the Suns publicly, but has the financial power to buy the team single-handedly. Forbes estimates his net worth is approximately $94 billion.

Other potential candidates from the tech world include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Laurene Powell Jobs. Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, is a minority shareholder of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and was one of several outside investors in a $75 million capital financing round for the NBA. WNBA earlier this year.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The former boxing great told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in June that he wants to buy an NBA team, preferably one in Las Vegas. Mayweather’s comment came amid rumors that the NBA may add two new teams, including one in Vegas and another in Seattle. But the NBA has not made any formal announcements about expansion.

Boxing great Floyd Mayweather (R) attends a training session at a Tokyo gym on September 22, 2022, ahead of his scheduled boxing match against Japanese mixed martial artist Mikuru Asakura.

RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

In a boxing career spanning nearly a decade, Mayweather has amassed more than $1 billion in revenue, Forbes estimated in June. He already has a stock car racing team – The Money Team Racing – that competes in NASCAR.

Mayweather told the Review-Journal that since early this year he has assembled a team of people to help him acquire a team. The Michigan native also told the paper that he is determined to buy a team, whether in Las Vegas or not.

Shaquille O’Neal

The NBA Hall of Famer expressed interest in buying the Orlando Magic – the team that drafted him 30 years ago – on his podcast in June. O’Neal said he would partner with former teammate Dennis Scott, who now does game commentary for Turner Sports, to buy the Florida team, which is currently owned by members of the DeVos family who are heirs to the Amway fortune.

“Dennis, we’ve got the money, don’t worry about the money,” O’Neal said. “But this message goes to the DeVos family: If you’re ready to sell the Orlando Magic, sell it to someone who will take it to the next level. That’s us.”

Since retiring from the NBA in 2011, O’Neal has built a multi-million dollar fortune through smart investments. He also owns several food franchises, car washes, and fitness centers.

Krause House DAO

DAO stands for ‘decentralized autonomous organization’. A DAO is essentially a group of cryptocurrency investors and blockchain enthusiasts pooling their time, money and expertise to achieve a collective goal.

The Krause House DAO was launched in 2016 with the aim of buying an NBA team. Members describe themselves as “a community of hoops fanatics just crazy enough to buy an NBA team.” Earlier this year, Krause House members purchased partly owned by the Ball Hogs, a team that plays in the independent basketball league Big3.

The DAO has more than 2,000 members and has raised $4 million, NPR reported last November. That’s not nearly enough to buy the Suns, but Krause House said in a tweet Wednesday that it is willing to drive Iger’s coattails to the path of team ownership.