Golden State Warriors Sold For $450 Million To Investment Group Headed By Joe Lacob

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Ellison's Bid May Have Been Higher, But Was It Too Late?

According to Sal Galatioto, president of Galatioto sports--the firm that brokered the sale of the Warriors--Larry Ellison's bid for the franchise arrived after an agreement had already been put in place with Joe Lacob and his group of investors, the eventual winners of the Warriors bidding process.

This comes via an exclusive interview at Comcast:

Galatioto said he had already reached an agreement in principle with the Guber-Lacob group for $450 million, and that “morally” he couldn’t advise Cohan to accept the higher bid.
 
“We were moving forward with the high bidder right to the end,” Galatioto said. “I think there’s an Oracle press release saying they were the highest bidder, but they jumped in at the last possible moment with a bid that was … I can’t comment on what it was. But these deals are not just the headline price. We had to get a very clean deal with the group that won and we had a high certainty of close. Nobody gets to take a shot after the clock expires, not even if you’re LeBron James."
 
“And you know what, the game was over for about three minutes when they took their shot. It doesn’t count.”

So perhaps it was Ellison who dropped the ball, after all. Even if his bid was higher, if it'd come through after the sale had been brokered with a rival group, his public statement looks extremely calculated, and frankly, incomplete. With a few sentences, he's able to render himself like the victim, and reinforce perceptions of Cohan as the crass, incompetent manager that fans have loathed for years in Golden State.

If negotiations had gone sour between Ellison and Cohan, this would certainly have made for an effective way to decline the purchase and stick it to the man who insisted on driving up the purchase price.

But by the same token, one can't help but wonder... If the deal had been done as long as Galatioto says, it's hard to believe that nobody leaked the news until today's official announcement. There were beat writers following this story every single day in the Bay Area, and as late as Thursday morning, the future of the Golden State Warriors was still up in the air.

Mind you, if Ellison's bid was indeed higher (and came before the team had been sold), it reflects poorly on both Galatioto and Cohan to have that news go public. It undermines Cohan's credibility as a businessman and Galatioto's credibility at brokering deals. They'd certainly have incentive to discredit Ellison's claims.

Both sides have ample motives to frame the truth in their own terms. So who do you trust in this case of he-said-she-said?

It's a debate that's sure to rage for at least the next few days, and perhaps much longer. And for a franchise in desperate need for stability, with some of the best fans on earth... Well, this sucks.

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Larry Ellison's Warriors Statement: 'I Was The Highest Bidder'

Okay, so it's still way too early to gauge what this ownership shift might mean to the Golden State Warriors, but you could forgive Golden State fans if they're feeling a bit wistful this afternoon. Larry Ellison, one of the top ten richest men in the world (#6), wanted to buy their team, apparently wanted to spend money on turning them into a winner, and generally looked primed to change the fortunes of one of the NBA's perennial basement dwellers.

Then, just when dreams were about to come true, the deal fell through. At the last moment, Ellison was outbid by an ownership group nobody saw coming WHAT? HE WASN'T OUTBID? Maybe not. In a statement as brief as it is acerbic, Ellison tells his side of the story:

Although I was the highest bidder, Chris Cohan decided to sell to someone else. In my experience this is a bit unusual.  Nonetheless, I wish the Warriors and their fans nothing but success under their new ownership.

Annnd... If the Warriors fans didn't riot on Chris Cohan's front lawn while Cohan was systematically running the team into the ground, then he's probably safe from the angry mobs now. Probably.

But good lord, if Ellison's telling the truth, you have to wonder what could compel an owner to turn down more money.

  • Petty resentment?
  • Financial insanity?
  • Lingering frustration over intense negotiations?
  • Just generally being the worst owner you could possibly imagine? So terrible that, even while selling the team, he managed to screw over the fans?

Any of those could be plausible answers to the Warriors riddle. But while we wait for definitive feedback, I imagine Golden State fans are wondering what might have been with Ellison and his deep pockets taking control, and find themselves asking a slightly different question:

  • What did we do to deserve this?
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Who Is Joe Lacob, New Warriors Owner?

As the details of this sale take shape, Bay Area beat writer Tim Kawakami reports that it appears Joe Lacob will run the Golden State Warriors, with other investors taking secondary roles. But just who is this guy?

To that question, a note from Golden State beat writer Marcus Thompson. This comes from earlier in the week, when Larry Ellison was still considered the frontrunner to win the Warriors' bidding process:

Lacob is part-owner of the Celtics and is a partner at the venture capitalist firm KPCB, which is based in Menlo Park. I remembered the name from when Matt Steinmetz reported back in June. But I never was able to confirm his involvement from people I trust, just Peter Guber. Didn’t matter anyway, right? This thing was destined for the top two seeds to meet in the finals: No. 1 Ellison vs. No. 2 Mastrov. Wrong. Of course, Tuesday is the day I confirmed he was in the mix. And boy is he in the mix.

It’s not that Lacob can outbid Ellison. It’s that Ellison “won’t overpay” as one person told me. Because of that Lacob is in the game.

Indeed, not only does Lacob have a history of involvement with the NBA, his track record in finance speaks to either remarkable foresight, amazing luck, and probably both. His venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers, is considered among the most successful in the world. 

Among the investments headlining Lacob's financial history, American Online, Amazon, Electronic Arts, and Sun Microsystems offer some pretty emphatic testaments to Lacob's financial success. And again, this isn't his first involvement with the NBA.

He's owned a part of the Boston Celtics and even has a 2008 Championship ring to show for it. Will he be able to replicate that success with Golden State? It'll take time before anyone can sure, but looking at this track record... Don't bet against him.

Congrats, Warriors fans. You deserve it.

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Golden State Warriors Sold For $450 Million To Investment Group Headed By Joe Lacob

The Golden State Warriors have finally been sold, concluding an arduous negotiation process that sometimes appeared interminable. Would Chris Cohan ever actually sell the Warriors to someone?

After the past few months, it seemed like a fair question.

But on Thursday, we got the answer: Yes he'll sell, just not to the buyer we expected.

While Bay-Area billionaire Larry Ellison was the presumed front-runner to take over the franchise, CNBC's Darren Rovell reports that Joe Lacob, managing partner of a Private Equity firm, and Peter Guber, chairman of Mandalay Entertainment, emerged at the last second to steal away the Warriors.

The pair will pay an NBA-record $450 million for the team, netting Chris Cohan a significant profit after purchasing the Warriors for $119 million. That's probably the only unpleasant aspect of this news to Warriors fans, as Cohan's tenure as owner has been marred by complete disarray, lack of vision, outright apathy on occasion, and most of all, losing. With new ownership, Warriors fans hope that change is on the way, and a bright future lies ahead.

We'll have more on this story as news trickles out, but in the meantime, check out SB Nation Bay Area, and SB Nation's excellent Warriors blog, Golden State of Mind for further reaction.

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