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

  • Just Musing

    Could it be that Cohan never intended to sell to Ellison. That he was used only to get others to increase their bids?

  • commish

    the date i will remember is when it is final and rowell, riley and nelson are sent packing

  • Marcus Thompson

    Just Musing,

    Totally possible. Probably likely

  • J-Walk

    Ellison was not passsionate about owning the Warriors. Lacob and Gruber were. They deserve to get the team.

  • Grey Warden

    June 29, 2008
    July 6 2009

    got the years wrong MT

  • Warrior fan

    Guber is a snake. Looking at his “well massaged” bio on wiki is proof. No mention of his fleecing of Sony. In short, we are in trouble!!!!

  • Brent

    Warrior Fan,

    Do you really think that Ellison isn’t a snake? I think that Ellison would have been a great owner, but you can’t get more snake-like than Ellison.

    The majority owner in the new group (Lacob) seems to know basketball and loves the Warriors. He’s even had season tickets for 10 years. Cohan is gone; I am happy.

  • MWLX

    So TK had the first scoop, yet said it was “highly unlikely.” What a perfect summation of his useless opinions.

    Marcus, you’ve had the best coverage all through this saga. Nevermind that a few others had a few tidbits first. You had the best perspective and most accurate picture of what was happening. That’s what really counts. Congrats.

  • Hook Mitchell

    New Ownership makes me Cautiously Optimistic

  • Warrior Craig

    I don’t buy the idea that Cohan didn’t want to sell to Ellison. What I believe and have heard from many, was that Ellison thought Cohan was trying to get him to bid against himself, so he didn’t really believe there was an offer of $450 Million on the table. Fact of the matter was, there was an offer of $450 Million and by the time Ellison figured this out, he quickly tried to counter, but there was already a “Verbal Agreement” in place and the papers were being drawn up.

    Fact of the matter is, Ellison lost out. I’m kind of in agreement with J-Walk when he says: “Ellison was not passionate about owning the Warriors. Lacob and Guber were. They deserve to get the team.”

    At least Lacob has credible B-Ball ownership experience and has a Championship Ring to prove it. While Ellison has a S@#tload of money, there is no proof he knows how to run a basketball team.

  • sureshot

    @MWLX – your reading comprehension skills are severely lacking. MT2 quotes Kawakami as writing “highly LIKELY” not “highly UNlikely”. You took that bit of info to mean the exact opposite of what Kawakami wrote. I know some of you are TK haters, but that’s friggin ridiculous.

    I like any writer willing to call out crappy ownership (you know, the opposite of the Gay Leprechaun on KNBR/Comcast). I just wish TK would apply the screws to Al Davis a little more. I’ve always said that the Raiders will rise when the Crypt Keeper falls. Besides, he ought to do a favor to his kids like Steinbrenner and kick off this year – when the “death tax” is zero. Come on, Al… do it for the kids!

  • TownLove

    Sal Gal said that they didn’t feel it was appropiate 2 present Cohan the late bid from Ellison and that it was marginally better. Only a few mill more. I bet Cohan would be pissed to know he may have been able 2 get more.

    Anyway, I’m encouraged by Lacobs Bball franchise experience.

  • dan

    We intend to win, but you also have to provide the service of entertainment to the audience.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/warriors/index?#ixzz0tp3mdX3P

    sound hooky to me….entertainment ?

  • ArmChair GM

    Peter Guber Q&A:

    Are you considering moving the Warriors back to San Francisco? I wouldn’t even begin to answer that question, but I can promise you that the Warriors will always stay in the Bay Area. You would have to be the dumbest mutt in the mafia to consider a move. That team must play in that area: Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose. That area is so robust, so sports-rich. It’s inconceivable to think about moving the team.

  • ArmChair GM

    Here’s a couple of questions…

    Since Ellison lost the bidding war, will the venue still be called the ORACLE Arena? Or will it get a new name?

    Second, it’s gonna be years if at all before the Warriors move anywhere else from Oakland.

    So why don’t our new owners do the first right thing after firing Rowell, Riley and Co. and rename our team


    It is ridiculous that we are the only team in the NBA that doesn’t have a city to identify with. It’s even stupider to call us the GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS as if we represent the whole state of California, when there are 3 OTHER BASKETBALL TEAMS THAT PLAY HERE!

    Now I know some of you San Fran stick up your butt haters will say that Oakland has too much crime, and it’s ghetto, blah, blah, blah, blah.

    Well let me give you some sports fact:

    Oakland is the only city in the entire state that has had a professional Football, Baseball, and Basketball team for over 30 years.

    In that time span we have produced 8 world champions 4 in baseball, 3 in football, and 1 in basketball. They have been represented in World Championship games between the three sports a total of 11 times.

    SF has produced 5 world champions, all in football, and has been represented in World Championship games a total of 6 times.

    Say what you want about Oakland, but for a city half the size of SF and constantly maligned, it is a first class sports city. It has outclassed and outshined San Francisco in the world of sports time and time again over the years.

    Your 2010-2011 OAKLAND WARRIORS! Make it happen Lacob & Guber!

  • John Starks

    Something doesn’t sound right. If Ellison had the highest bid, how did Gruber’s group come out of nowhere and mystically know to up their bid…at the last minute? Were the bids made available to all parties? Somehow, Gruber’s group knew what Ellison’s bid was and waited until Ellison didn’t have time to counter counter-offer.

    I hope the NBA owners do not approve this sale. How on earth does anyone “outbid” a billionaire?

    I am already skeptical and, dare I say, moreso than when Cohan was at the helm. These guys came out of nowhere at the last second and one-upped Larry Ellison? Fishy fishy fishy

  • Willy

    #11 Dan,

    Suddenly I picture James Brown running around stage singing “Living in America, Ow” as in the movie Rocky. Nothing wrong with a little entertainment as an appetizer but definitely not your main course.

    Boom Dizzle would have loved this.

  • Brytex

    From Joe Lacob phone interview:

    “Shoot, we’re just really excited! My kids have grown up Warriors fans, and I’m a Warriors fan. And I can’t wait to help get this organization back on a big time winning track. We have an opportunity here to build something really special.”

  • Limekiller

    Question: If Larry Ellison really DID have the highest bid, yet the team was sold to the Lacob group, can’t the minority owners sue to block the sale, on the grounds that they are being cost money by the lower bid being accepted?

  • No More Mr. Nice Guy

    MWLX #7:

    How can you possibly mischaracterize TK’s quote (Marcus clearly quotes him saying “highly likely”). Seems like you’re the one with the useless opinions.

  • Boycott_CC

    #17: Looks like MWLX lost his reading glasses.

  • Grassy Knoll

    I am so disappointed in W’s fans. For years we’ve been complaining about Cohan. Now we’re complaining about Ellison. If you can’t be happy over this, you’ll never be happy with anything. Good luck with your unhappy existence.

    Here’s the truth: Ellison is a sore loser and is saving face. He knows damn well that last second bid is meaningless. He did it just so he could release a press statement to make himself look good.

    As #4 said, if Ellison really wanted the team he would get it. And you know what, I’m happier with owners that were willing to pay top dollar and not nickel and dime and distrust a credible and experienced auctioneer.

    I want a winner. Someone who doesn’t make excuses. It’d be like clearing cap space for Lebron and not making your best offer to him until you find out he’s committed to someone else for more money. Play to win and demand excellence. Ellison clearly understands that in the business world, but not the sports world.

    I’m glad we have an owner with championship experience in the NBA and that clearly wanted to do whatever it took to win. These guys have tons of money too. Btw, look at how many championships all of Paul Allen’s money got him in Portland, and he is one of the richest guys in the world too.

    We can’t get long term happiness until we see whether this team turns around. But if you can’t enjoy the short term joy of getting rid of Cohan (and hopefully Rowell, etc.), you probably don’t really enjoy muych of anything in your life.

  • Grassy Knoll

    One more thing – you are all getting played by the media. They’re doing everything they can to play up this Ellison angle, even though it’s plain as day to anyone who has ever bought/sold a house, been involved in company merger acquisitions, or been through a bidding process that this was a legitimate, ethical, and well conducted process.

    The more confusion they throw out, the better the radio and headlines.

    There was no conspiracy to not sell to Ellison. There was no conspiracy to screw the fans. The media is just trying to fabricate talking points.

    The media knows no one knows who the hell Lacob and Guber are. But they know everyone knows Ellison. So they are playing that up to the hilt for ratings.

    You’re being played like suckers.

  • Sureshot

    @armchair – I’m all for Oakland, but your facts are all twisted up. If you’re using the past 30 years as your scale, Oakland’s only won a single Super Bowl (XV) and that came exactly 30 years ago. Two years later, the Raiders moved to LA where they won one more before moving back in 1995. Also, the Dubs won their championship a good 4-5 years before your timeline starts. And the A’s have only won a single World Series (1989 over the Giant’s) in that time period too.

    As much as I like the Raiders and Warriors, you’re giving Oakland too much credit.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Hold the phone! If this is how it went:

    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.

    So, Lacob and Guber were allowed a late entry bid to jump everyone after the last date, yet Larry was not. How does this not scream FIXED? David Stern, hello.

  • dubfan

    Apparently, if I am reading and interpreting this correctly, where it states:

    “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.” – This upping of the bid and leapfrogging would be AFTER the 2 remaining viable parties were chosen (and assumedly, Ellison was not one of them)and then (and only then) could a higher bid be submitted. IF Ellison was one of these 2 parties, then something is amiss, it would seem, in regards to why Ellison would not similarly been allowed to submit a higher bid. But it appears that Ellison was NOT one of the 2 highest bidders at the conclusion of the time period in which the binding bids were to have been submitted.

    Maybe the whole truth/timeline will come out eventually, although probably not.