The National, a news site in the United Arab Emirates, is reporting that investment groups in both Dubai and Qatar are in discussions to purchase the Detroit Pistons. The bids are serious enough that NBA Commissioner David Stern is commenting on them:
Negotiations are “ongoing” for a potential Middle East buyout of the franchise, said David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“The interest and discussions have taken place in reference to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. There is more than one discussion,” Mr Stern said.
“That is a team that has been, and is having negotiations with different potential investors,” he added, declining to name the parties involved.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire, recently bought the New Jersey Nets franchise, marking the first foreign ownership of an NBA team. This purchase “ignited and catalysed” foreign interest in ownership of the teams, said Mr Stern.
“We are either in direct or indirect discussions with at least three buyers in the Middle East over their interest in acquiring NBA franchises,” he said. “We are mindful that of the 20 teams in [English Premier League football], 10 are owned by investors outside the UK.”
The NBA, which has been very foriegn-minded under Stern’s leadership, is currently looking at ways to expand and grow its fanbase in the Middle East. And owning the Pistons would make sense from an Arab-based business standpoint: Dearborn, after all, has one of the largest Arab populations outside the Middle East.
So, to recap, here are the others reportedly interested in buying the Pistons:
- Mike Ilitch, who was considered the favorite and had an exlusive negotiating window to finalize purchasing the team that fell through.
- Tom Gores, who told Vincent Goodwill in mid-November that he’s still interested.
- George Postolos, who things have been quiet from since his name was thrown into the running.
Meanwhile, Magic Johnson, who was at one time rumored to be interested in joining a Pistons ownership group after selling his share in the Lakers, appears to be fully committed to bringing a NFL team to Los Angeles after telling Jimmy Kimmel that he’s fully committed to bringing a NFL team to Los Angeles.
I think most were hoping for a quick resolution to the in-flux ownership situation, but as more candidates emerge, it appears more likely to drag on longer.