Yao Ming denies interest in buying Los Angeles Clippers

Former Houston Rockets centre among reported bidders for Los Angeles franchise

Former NBA player Yao Ming, left, of China takes part in a Special Olympics training camp in Taipei on June 14, 2014. Mandy Cheng / AFP
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Agence France-Presse

TAIPEI // Chinese basketball star Yao Ming on Saturday denied a report that he was lining up investors to bid for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers if embattled owner Donald Sterling has to sell.

“I can’t confirm it because it is completely a rumour,” Yao said when asked about the report at an NBA event in Taipei.

The former Houston Rockets centre said that, at present, he did not have a plan to buy an NBA team.

ESPN.com reported last month that Yao was the latest celebrity to be linked to a potential bid for the Clippers since Sterling was engulfed in a scandal over racially charged remarks that became public in April.

ESPN said that Yao and another former NBA player, Grant Hill, were reportedly working separately to find investors to launch bids.

Yao joined the Rockets after he was selected with the first pick of the 2002 NBA draft. He announced his retirement in July 2011 after a trailblazing career that made him China’s best-known athlete and helped spur the game’s growth across Asia.

He owns a team in the Chinese Basketball Association, the Shanghai Sharks, and maintains close ties with the NBA.

NBC and ESPN reported on Friday that Sterling was fighting back as the league tries to force a sale of the club or strip his ownership of the Clippers from him.

The Clippers are valued at nearly US$600 million (Dh2.2 billion) by Forbes magazine and could fetch substantially more given the publicity surrounding the team and its location in a major US market.


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