OAKLAND, California // A part owner of the Boston Celtics and an entertainment impresario have purchased the Golden State Warriors for an NBA-record price. Joe Lacob of the Celtics and Peter Guber, chief executive of Mandalay Entertainment, agreed to purchase one of the league's weakest clubs for US$450 million (Dh1.65 billion), they said on Thursday. Six NBA clubs were valued at more than $450m by Forbes magazine in December, but no team had changed hands for more than the $401m that the Phoenix Suns fetched in 2004.
The Warriors have been one of the NBA's least-successful teams. They appeared in the play-offs only once in 16 seasons under the stewardship of Chris Cohan, whose income-tax debt of $160m prompted the sale. Cohan bought the team for about $119m in 1995. Larry Ellison, the owner of Oracle Corporation and ranked the sixth-richest man in the world with a personal fortune estimated at $28bn, was one of the unsuccessful bidders for the team.
Despite the long run of on-court struggles, Golden State has a passionate fan base that has helped pack Oracle Arena in recent years and made the team a desirable target for a new owner. The Warriors' most prominent players include the guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, and the centre David Lee, recently obtained in a trade with the New York Knicks. The Warriors are coached by Don Nelson, 70, who has won 1,335 games, more than any coach in NBA history. He has lost 1,065.
Nelson said he would like to remain with the team. The sale is subject to approval by the NBA, which is expected to be pleased that the erratic Cohan will be leaving the league. Lacob said that he and Guber plan to rebuild the club, which last won a championship in 1975. "It is our passion to return the Warriors to greatness and build nothing short of a championship organization that will make all of us in the Bay Area proud."