Daily Distractions: Imagining a world in which the Dodgers and Clippers are owned by the same group.

Magic Johnson

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson is reportedly interested in buying the Clippers if Donald Sterling is forced to sell the team. (Getty Images)

Baseball’s Detroit Tigers and hockey’s Detroit Red Wings have been owned by the same man, Mike Ilitch, since 1992. There is little overlap between the MLB and NHL seasons, so it’s not hard to share the same core group of fans. There are no other MLB or NHL teams in town. For his part, Ilitch quickly turned the Red Wings from a loser into one of hockey’s most valuable brands. By the time he bought the Tigers, he had built up enough goodwill in the city to be welcomed by local baseball fans with open arms.

For those who question if it’s possible to own two teams in the same market, look no further than Detroit.

Los Angeles is not Detroit, of course, and it might be time to start asking questions in Southern California. Magic Johnson has reportedly expressed interest in buying the NBA’s Clippers from disgraced owner Donald Sterling. What would it look like if the Dodgers and Clippers were owned by the same group?

Fans already boo Clippers star Chris Paul whenever he’s shown on the video board at Dodger Stadium. Pau Gasol and other Lakers are cheered like the hometown team. Clearly, Dodger Stadium is a Laker stadium. This might get weird.

Or will it? If Johnson is the face of Dodger ownership, he’s also the face of the WNBA’s Sparks and Magic Johnson Theaters. His name is not synonymous with the Dodgers; it’s synonymous with “multiple business interests.” In theory, it should be easy to put the Clippers in the context of Another Magic Johnson Business Interest. Same goes for the other Guggenheim investors; it’s yet to be seen how many of them want in on the Clippers.

In practice, how weird this gets might depend on why Dodger fans boo Clipper players. Is it a knee-jerk reaction to the Clipper brand from Laker fans? Is it because of Sterling? Is it just a Chris Paul thing?

Sterling might be replaceable; we’ll find out soon enough. Paul’s time as a Clipper is inherently temporary. But if it’s a knee-jerk reaction from Laker fans, this might not go over well.

Johnson was a minority owner of the Lakers until 2010, when he sold his shares to Patrick Soon-Shiong, but that didn’t really change his status as a face of (and a mouthpiece for) the Lakers franchise. A world in which Magic Johnson owns the Clippers could be an uncomfortable one for Laker fans. This could be perceived as heel turn worse than Phil Jackson joining the Knicks’ front office.

Johnson said last October in Atlanta that Los Angeles can be both a Lakers town and a Dodgers town. Selling Dodger fans on the idea that this can be a Clipper town too might be beyond even Johnson’s long reach.

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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers buy the Sparks, sort of.

The WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks are now property of the Dodgers. Sort of.

Under the terms of a just-completed sale, the Sparks belong to five of the six people who own the Dodgers: Magic Johnson, Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. Peter Guber, who co-owns both the Dodgers and the Golden State Warriors, isn’t involved in the Sparks purchase.

Colleague Jill Painter reports that Johnson was the only member of the unnamed group who spoke Wednesday at a press conference at Staples Center. Johnson said that he and Walter decided about two weeks ago to place a bid on the franchise while the two were sharing a flight. “We came in at the 11th hour,” Johnson said.

Kasten, the Dodgers’ president and CEO, declined comment on what his role would be beyond financier.

Yesterday we speculated about whether Sparks games would wind up on SportsNet LA if the Dodgers purchased the Sparks. That won’t happen.

The Sparks have a contract with Time Warner through 2016. Time Warner owns TWC SportsNet, which has been carrying Sparks games the past two seasons. The Dodgers (technically, American Media Productions) own SportsNet LA.

Some bullet points for a National Weatherperson’s Day:

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Forbes values Dodgers at $1.615 billion.

Dodgers logoThe Dodgers are still not worth as much as their purchase price, according to Forbes magazine’s latest MLB franchise valuations released Wednesday.

Forbes places the Dodgers’ value at $1.615 billion, less than the $2 million paid a year ago by Guggenheim Baseball Management but more than the $1.37 billion the franchise was valued at a year ago.

Among all MLB teams the Dodgers are second only to the Yankees, valued at $2.3 billion, and one of only four billion-dollar franchises along with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.

Forbes’ list of values for all 30 teams can be found here.

Of the Dodgers, Forbes writes:
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Report: Dodgers owners interested in buying AEG.

The Guggenheim Partners investment group, whose members include Dodgers chairman Mark Walter and co-owner Todd Boehly, has joined with a larger group of investors to bid on AEG, according to Reuters.

The report states that Los Angeles-based billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong “intends to put together a broad group of local investors in a similar fashion to the one Guggenheim assembled for the $2 billion purchase of the Dodgers in May.”

The Lakers, Kings, Galaxy, Staples Center, Home Depot Center, the proposed Farmers Field football stadium and Citizens Business Bank Arena are all among AEG’s assets. If some or all of the Guggenheim group gets involved, it would leave the Clippers, Ducks, Angels and Chivas USA as the only major professional sports franchises in the region not under Guggenheim control.

The $2 billion price tag Guggenheim paid for the Dodgers was a benchmark for pro sports. For many, it might seem implausible that the same group would spend even more than that on another sports body less than a year later.

But Guggenheim has built a global network of assets in excess of $160 billion, according to Reuters. The money’s there. And Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he’s often been encouraged to “think big” and think about “what’s next” in his short time working with Guggenheim.

Maybe now, Guggenheim is thinking bigger than the Dodgers.

Bud Selig statement regarding the impending sale of the Dodgers.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig issued the following statement Wednesday, posted on MLB.com:

“It is extraordinarily exciting for Major League Baseball that Magic Johnson, a beloved figure in Los Angeles and around the world, has entered into an agreement, along with Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten, that would make them a part of our national pastime.

“I believe that a man of Magic’s remarkable stature and experience can play an integral role for one of the game’s most historic franchises, in a city where he is revered. Major League Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities, and Magic Johnson is a living embodiment of so many of the ideals that are vital to our game and its future.

“The interest in this franchise and its historic sale price are profound illustrations of the great overall health of our industry. This has been a long, difficult process, and I once again want to thank the great Dodger fans for their loyalty and patience.”

So Magic Johnson owns the Dodgers. What’s next?

In case you missed it, a group led by Magic Johnson was selected as the next owner of the Dodgers tonight. Here are the preliminary details.

There are some good questions that remain to be answered as of this moment.Why did the deal go down so soon after Major League Baseball owners approved the final three groups of bidders? What were Frank McCourt’s sticking points? What will the team’s next television package look like, and does the incoming ownership group already know?

If these questions haven’t been answered by the time McCourt and the Guggenheim Group sit down for a press conference later this week in Los Angeles (the exact date and location are TBA), they will be asked with Magic Johnson and his cohorts on the dais.

Here are some things we do know:
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