Could Yao Ming buy the Los Angeles Clippers?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

With the sale of the Clippers looming, Yao Ming has emerged as a long-shot suitor to buy the franchise. Could China's biggest NBA star actually make the move?

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As if we needed another big name thrown into the mix for new Los Angeles Clippers ownership, "Yao Ming is putting together a group of wealthy Chinese investors to make a serious run" at buying the franchise, reports ESPN's Bill Simmons. Yes, we've reached the stage of this process where even international former stars are throwing their hats into the ring.

Why this makes sense

For one, Yao is an extremely wealthy individual. Since retiring from professional basketball in 2011, the Chinese ex-superstar has emerged as a prominent investor in China's technology industry, and as of two years ago, had amassed a net worth of over $150 million.

Back in 2009, Yao purchased his former Chinese team, the Shanghai Sharks, when the financially struggling franchise was on the brink of shuttering. He's also taken college classes and started a winery since leaving the NBA, so he has the time to work on his passions.

As for the league, adding a Chinese ownership group backed by arguably the most popular international player in league history is a pretty tasty proposition. Commissioner Adam Silver has touted his desire to expand the NBA beyond North America in the past, and replacing the Sterling ownership with a Yao-based group would contribute to that.

Why this doesn't make sense

A lot of very wealthy, very connected people want to buy the Clippers.

Just because Yao Ming has the money and group support to purchase the team doesn't mean it will happen, especially if the Clippers get their way and Shelly Sterling is allowed to dictate the process, which would only complicate matters.

We've already seen an incredible number of prominent, respected people tied to the franchise, from Magic Johnson to Oprah, so the bidding process will be extremely competitive.

When folks talk about the Clippers selling for around $2 billion, that's partially a reflection of demand for the team. There are a lot of people who would love to own an NBA franchise, let alone an NBA franchise in the United States' second-largest market.

Likelihood

The odds that Yao actually puts together a group, bids for the Clippers and has that bid accepted by the NBA are pretty low. Again, this isn't because Yao isn't a respected person in league circles or lacks money. This is about the overwhelming demand that's likely to result from the sale of the team. There isn't really a possible owner out there, as of now, who garners particularly high odds.

The possibilities are impressive, though, Yao among them. Whoever does become the new Clippers owner will likely have quite the resume.

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