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Ellison wants to buy the Warriors, but owner says they’re not for sale

on January 28, 2010

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison says he wants to buy Oakland’s Golden State Warriors. Kind of like how he said he wanted to buy the San Francisco 49ers a few years ago.

But Ellison appears to have a similar problem in his bid to buy the Warriors from Chris Cohan as he did when he tried to buy the 49ers from the York family: The current owner doesn’t want to sell.

Ellison is clear about this part of the deal. During a press conference to announce Oracle’s $7.4-billion takeover of Sun Microsystems yesterday, according to Marketwatch, Ellison answered a question about his interest in buying the team by saying, “I’m trying. Unfortunately you can’t have a hostile takeover of a basketball team.” (Or a football team. As to why his courtship of the 49ers ended in 2004, Ellison told the Associated Press, “The Yorks aren’t selling, so I’m not buying.”)

Cohan apparently isn’t selling, either. On Wednesday, Warriors team president Robert Rowell responded to Ellison’s comments by telling that there’s “not much to this” while noting that Ellison has never made a formal offer to buy the team.

Since last summer, rumors of Ellison’s interest in buying the Warriors have had long-downtrodden fans hopeful that a new era could be approaching. Rowell shot those down at that time as well, saying the team was not for sale.

Warriors fans sure hope Cohan sells the team—in his 16 seasons at the helm of one of the most dysfunctional professional sports teams, the Warriors have made the NBA playoffs once. This in a league where every year more teams qualify for the playoffs (16) than miss out (14).

This has been one of the more dysfunctional seasons in the Cohan era, though it can’t match years like 1997, when the star player, Latrell Sprewell, choked his coach at practice. Or 2001, when team captain Mookie Blaylock skipped practice to play golf and was subsequently stripped of his captaincy.

The Warriors (13-31) have the third-worst record in the NBA this season and are 21 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division. The team’s top scorer from last season, Stephen Jackson, demanded to be traded at the start of this season and was accommodated. The current top two scorers, Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette, have gotten into shouting matches with coach Don Nelson.

Nelson, for his part, has been criticized for being only concerned with the coaching all-time wins record, which he is closing in on, and not the development of the team’s young and promising but raw players.

According to Forbes magazine, Ellison is the fourth-richest man in the country, which raises the possibility of his increasing the team’s budget, sweetening the deal for fans.

“PLEASE,” a fan wrote on message board at Warriors fan site Golden State of Mind. “I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. Dumdumdum. Good Lord, I am singing …”

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