From Rumor to Rejoice: A Timeline of the Warriors’ Sale

Warriors fans across the Bay Area are celebrating the departure of 16-year Warriors owner Chris Cohan. After years of begging and pleading and venting, they finally got their wish.

What perhaps has gotten lost in it all is that this happened kind of fast. It was only a year ago, or so, that a certain Mercury News columnist was getting ripped for teasing Warriors fans with talk of Cohan selling. A calendar year. That’s all it took. Here is how it went down.

July 3, 2009 – Citing sources, San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami reports that sources are saying Chris Cohan is seriously considering selling his part of the franchise in a year or two, calling it “highly likely.”

July 8, 2009 – Sources tell me that same thing, that Cohan is looking to sale and had talks with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Yes, Kawakami is five days better than me.

January 11, 2010 – As CSN Bay Area’s Matt Steinmetz reported, Ellison attended his first Warriors game. He sat courtside to watch the Warriors play the Cleveland Cavaliers, a few feet from the spot where LeBron James hit the game-winning jumper at the buzzer.

January 27, 2010 – Ellison publicly confirms his interest in buying the Warriors. At the Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, a audience member asked him to by the Warriors. His response: “I’m trying. I’m trying. Unfortunately, you can’t have a hostile takeover of a basketball team.”

March 22, 2010 – Reacting to a report in the Sports Business Journal, the Warriors announce that owner Chris Cohan is selling the team and he has hired Galatioto Sports Partners to execute the sale. GSP orchestrated the sale of Phoenix Suns, which went for a record $401 million to Robert Sarver. The plan from the outset was to break that record.

March 24, 2010 – Mark Mastrov, founder of 24-Hour Fitness, publicly expresses his interest in owning the Warriors to Bay Area News Group. Word is that Mastrov has 24-Hour Fitness endorser Magic Johnson on board with him. Mastrov: “I think I can do just as well, if not better (than Larry Ellison).”

May 18, 2010 – The bids start rolling in, 12 of them, as S.F. Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons first reports. Ellison, Mastrov, a grew of Chinese business people, and even the San Francisco Giants, reportedly submitted a bid.

May 25, 2010 – Steinmetz reports that Cohan, Sal Galatioto and Russ Granik, former NBA deputy commissioner and current vice chairman of GSP, met at the team’s downtown facilities presumably to thumb through the bids.

May 28, 2010 – Sources tell me the field has been whittled to four groups. At the time, the only two groups confirmed were the Ellison and the group led by 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov. They all get access to the Warriors’ records, presentations from the staff and a tour of the facilities. They are sent purchase of sale agreements, which they are to return to the Warriors with their binding bids.

June 5, 2010 – Sports Illustrated’s Frank Hughes reports that Ellison has teamed with the minority owners to form a “super group.” This gave Ellison an advantage because he only had to come up with 80 percent of whatever the final price.

June 23, 2010 – Steinmetz reveals a third group of the Final Four. The group includes Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber. The group also includes Celtics part owner Joseph Lacob. They tour the facilities.

June 29, 2010 – The last tour takes place. It is for the group led by Wall Street financier David Bonderman, founding partner of the private equity firm TPG Capital which has offices in S.F. Bonderman takes a tour of the practice facilities while point guard Stephen Curry is works out on the court.

July 6, 2010 – Binding bids are all in. They were actually due at the end of the month, but groups were allowed to submit their purchase of sale agreements after holiday weekend. According to Sal Galatioto, all four groups submitted bids above $400 million.

July 9, 2010 – I reported that the field was narrowed to two bidders. Apparently, this is where Lacob’s group upped his bid and leapfrogged the pack.

July 12, 2010 – Sports Business Journal sounds the alarm with a Tweet that the winning bidder could be announced today. As it turns out, Galatioto and the Lacob group were hashing out the final details of a sale agreement.

July 15, 2010 – Word got out that a sale agreement between the Warriors and the group with Lacob and Guber was done. Shortly afterward, an official announcement came, followed by drama. Ellison says he was the highest bidder but didn’t get the team. Galatioto said Ellison was late and an agreement was already reached with Lacob group. Most important, however, Cohan’s 16-year tenure as ownr of the Warriors is over.

Marcus Thompson