Blog Entry

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:29 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 12:05 am
The Hornets might have an owner. Great timing. Only been a year and a half. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver   

NBA commissioner David Stern has been hinting for some time that the league-owned New Orleans Hornets have a buyer. On Friday, a name finally emerged.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that a group led by a California businessman could pay up to $340 million for the franchise, while agreeing to keep it in New Orleans for the foreseeable future.

A group led by Los Angeles-area businessman Raj Bhathal, who founded one of the country’s leading swimwear manufacturing companies, has emerged as a top candidate to purchase the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA, sources said Thursday. The group includes Larry J. Benson, brother of Saints owner Tom Benson and former NBA coach Mike Dunleavy.

Bhathal, 72, and Larry Benson, 66, each once owned franchises in the now defunct World League of American Football, a spring league venture initiated and funded by the NFL in 1990. Bhathal owned the franchise in Orlando, Fla., while Benson owned the team in San Antonio, his home base. also reported that a Hornets sale is pending and provided an estimated sale price, although they did not reveal details of the ownership group.

Although there is no word yet from the state, city, NBA, or new ownership, the New Orleans Hornets, owned by the NBA, will be sold within the next 10 days to 2 weeks to an out-of-town owner. 

The new out-of-town owner will pony up $340 million for the team. 

The sale price would reflect a $20 million increase over the $320 million that the NBA reportedly paid to purchase the Hornets from the league, according to the Orange County Business Journal

The paper provides some background on Bhathal's business as well.

Raj Manufacturing makes and sells swimsuits under its own brands and through licenses with Irvine-based St. John Knits International Inc., Guess Inc. of Los Angeles and New York-based PVH Corp.’s Tommy Hilfiger Group, among others.

Bhathal started Raj Manufacturing with his wife Marta more than 40 years ago. Both sold their stakes in the company to their children, Lisa Vogel and Alex Bhathal, in 2007. The siblings run Raj Manufacturing as co-presidents. Raj Manufacturing has $130 million in annual sales, according to a Business Journal estimate.

Stern has maintained since the league took over the Hornets that the league was not interested in buyers who wanted to relocate the franchise.

The league's ownership of the Hornets has drawn plenty of criticism, including from the likes of former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and it sparked a major controversy in December when Stern reportedly vetoed a 3-way trade that would have sent All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Lakers. Paul was later traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stern is scheduled to speak to the media on Saturday night during his annual All-Star press conference. Surely the Hornets sale will be a hot topic.

Hat tip:

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: February 26, 2012 1:01 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

Hornets wont be going anywhere.  How many other NBA teams could see a 67% increase in season ticket sales 1)during a lockout, and 2) with the potential loss of the ENTIRE season?  NONE.  Except New Orleans.  I'm tired of all you out of towners trying to take OUR team.  Its time you Shut the F*** up and move on with your life....... Its really funny that you don't hear Mark Cuban complaining about the roughly $600,000 PROFIT he stands to make from this sale.  Yet, he complained about the Hornets taking on an additional salary that cost him about $20,000. What an idiot!

Since: Apr 23, 2007
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:52 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

The Hornets situation is just another David Stern f*** up. The team was getting rabid support in Charlotte until then-owner George Shinn was accused of sexual assault and the Bilble Belt fans turned on him. He then moved the team to Nawlins, the fans there don't care about any team but the Saints, Katrina happened, the NBA bought the team and mismanaged it, and here we are. And Stern put that worthless new team in Charlotte which the fans don't care about.

Since: Jul 28, 2011
Posted on: February 25, 2012 7:04 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: February 25, 2012 6:14 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

I can about guarantee if the fans don't come they will be moving the team. There a a few cities that would like to have a NBA team.

Since: Apr 2, 2008
Posted on: February 25, 2012 5:18 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

HEY, CravenmoreC**K,  if you have absolutely know idea what your talking about, you really shouldnt say anything at all.  There is this little saying it goes something like this.

Better to let one think that you are a freakin idiot,
Than to open your mouth and prove us all correct. 

Do your homework, learn the true facts as to why OKC has a team now, and then chime in.  Cause you dont know D**K. 

Since: Feb 25, 2012
Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:09 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

Why would you even say that other than to stir the pot?   

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:03 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

None of those teams are looking to be relocated except for the Kings. And maybe the Magic. All the other teams are thriving and have been for a long time. Even the Clippers, who are dwarved by the Lakers popularity in their city but being second fiddle in LA is still much more lucrative than being big fish in seattle. 

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:01 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

Nuggets fan living in Seattle chiming in here...Seattle did support their team, you're way off base there.  Teams move for lots of reasons, blaming the fans is a cop out, there was more to it than that.  OKC is doing fine now, they have a quality team down there that is fun to watch.  Durant and Westbrook are super talented players who will lead that team for awhile.  What's your beef with Seattle?  Are you just trying to make people angry or is it legitimate?

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:41 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

Haha Reggie btw. Seeing as how you're a Seattle fan, I figured I might as well ask you. How about the Okc Thunder? Looks like they're thriving here in Oklahoma City huh? It's good to see that franchise FINALLY be supported by a city.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:36 pm

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

Reggie, sure OSU has been decent the last couple of years, but everyone knows that's not gonna last. They'll fall off sooner rather than later like they always do, and OU will stay around the top like always. That's why OU is a powerhouse and OSU, well, isn't. Come back and talk to me when OSU does 1/7th of what OU has done, and wins a national title. As for CENATION-HLR... The only teams Seattle even had a chance to get was the Hornets and the Kings. And I don't see the Kings leaving Sacramento seeing as how the city and the NBA itself are trying to everything to keep them there. I have no idea where you got those other teams you listed from. You likely just pulled them out of your ass. And no, there was no chance the Hornets were going to Kansas City. Now while I make sure I do my math(which I don't really see how that comment was relevant) perhaps you should check your spelling and grammar before your next comment.

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