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Copyright 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
MARK SMITH Of the Journal

Donald Sterling paid the price. He is, after all, the most hated man in America according to a recent poll by E-Score®, a leading consumer research service that provides information to media and entertainment companies.

Now, however, Sterling can name his price .

And much to the chagrin of the P.C. police, that price looks to be about $2 billion.

So very much is still left to play out in this entire ugly saga. But ever since NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned the Los Angeles Clippers owner for life after his racially despicable remarks - made to gold-digging gal pal V. Stiviano -became public in late April, the heat has been on Sterling to sell his franchise after more than three decades.

Early reports had the Clippers being worth about $600 to $700 million.

"That's not right," Albuquerque native and former co-owner of the Sacramento Kings Joe Maloof told me at the time. "Mark my words, that team - in that LA market - will go for at least $1.5 billion. Maybe $2 billion."

Maloof was dead-on.

Last week, Sterling's wife - Shelly Sterling - reportedly agreed to sell the Clippers to former Micro-soft CEO, Steve Ballmer while Donald Sterling sued the NBA for $1 billion for damages.

Even more public and media outrage was directed at Sterling because of the $2 billion price tag. After all, Sterling paid $12.5 million for the Clippers in 1981.

How can a racist make such a killing?

I've never met Sterling and have no desire to do so. But I can only assume that an 80-year-old billionaire doesn't care about making a financial killing when it comes to his Clippers.

I can only imagine it's killing him to lose, what very likely amounts to, his baby. His life.

Besides, if it's worth $2 billion now, how much more will it be worth in another five or 10 years?

Still, many say the $2 billion price tag out of whack.

Hardly, according to Maloof, who sold the Kings in 2013.

"An investment in a quality sports franchise is a more secure investment than the stock market," Maloof said. "These sports franchises appreciate year after year. Our family's been a part of it for 25 years - we understand it.

"Very very few sports franchises have ever sold for less than they were purchased for. My dad paid $9 million for the Houston Rockets (in 1979), and we sold for a very nice profit (in 1981, a year after George Maloof Sr.'s death), I can't remember how much. We paid $225 million for the Sacramento Kings in 1999 (as majority owners), and in 2013 we sold for $585 million, when you throw everything in."

Maloof said the reason the family sold the Kings was: "It was just the right time. We had a difficult time with (getting public funding for) the arena in Sacramento. We're very happy now. It's worked out well for everyone involved."

The amount of the Kings' sale shocked many, but it's why Maloof said he knows the Clippers' worth.

It is, after all, Los Angeles - and one of the hottest teams in the league, if not all of sports.

And sports are where it's at.

"When I heard reporters at one major sports network price it at $675 million, I knew they were dead wrong," Maloof said. "It's a great market. It's a privilege to be in that league, just as it is in the NHL or any other sport. It's a special fraternity.

"What people don't understand, is there are just a finite few professional sports franchises. They're like precious gems. There's a billion hotels, there's a lot of real estate in the world. But there are only a few professional sports franchises in NFL, NBA, NHL, baseball."

In addition, as recording shows via TiVo or DVR - and skipping past commercials - becomes more common each year, Maloof says sports hold a special place in America.

"When it comes to television, there's nothing more valuable than live sports," he said. "Nothing will bring people to a network like a live sporting event. If you record it, with today's technology, somebody's going to tweet you, somebody's going to post it on Instagram, put it on Facebook.

"If you're trying to avoid the result of a game, what you have to do is go to work and put on earphones. Then get in your car, turn off your radio. Then you can't turn the TV on until you're ready to watch and you have to stay off the computer and your phone. That's not how people want to live, so they watch sports live."

As for Sterling situation, Maloof said he's been called by numerous reporters, but "We're out of the league now, and that's not for us to comment on."

He says the Maloof family, now based out of Las Vegas, Nev., but still doing business in New Mexico, didn't consider buying the Clippers. However, he says it is itching to get back into the game.

"Oh yeah, we'll get back in sports," he says. "We've taken a little breather, we've been in it all of our lives. We understand the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys. Every franchise goes through them. We had a great time in Sac. We won a championship with the (WNBA) Monarchs and almost won one with the Kings. We have no regrets.

"But we'll be back. Like I said, it's the best investment out there."


MALOOF: Former co-owner of the Kings


June 3, 2014




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