Roughly two years ago, the Los Angeles Clippers announced their intentions to create a brand new arena in Inglewood where they would host their games after their lease with the Staples Center ran out.
Fast forward to now and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is in a lengthy legal battle with Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Forum in Inglewood. The Clippers’ new arena would be in direct competition with the historic venue for events outside of basketball.
According to court documents obtained by Nathan Fenno of the LA Times, business mogul and MSG-associate Irving Azoff tried to convince Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and adviser Linda Rambis of a return back to the Forum in an attempt to undermine the Clippers’ efforts.
E-mails obtained and presented in the LA Times’ story linked above show that Buss and Rambis were interested in the idea. In fact, Buss references her brother Jim Buss, who she fired as vice president of basketball operations and defeated in court, as a precautionary tale for Ballmer.
The Lakers, whose lease at Staples Center runs until 2025, released this statement on the report:
“MSG approached the Lakers about the possibility of returning to the Forum following the end of our Lease at Staples Center in 2025, but nothing came from the discussions.”
This will all be part of a very messy legal battle. Ballmer and the Clippers have already filed a countersuit.
The NBA will probably not be too happy with the Lakers involvement in all of this, especially given that the Forum and MSG are primarily owned by New York Knicks owner James Dolan. That will surely bring about some talk of collusion between NBA owners to obstruct the Clippers from building their arena.
The full story is worth reading for details on the interaction between Buss, Rambis and Azoff.