After stepping down as president of the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson has joined a bid by rapper and actor Ice Cube to buy 21 regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Co.
“Very happy to add Magic Johnson to our bidding group for Disney’s RSNs,” Ice Cube said in a tweet.
Ice Cube is seeking to buy the sports networks through his 3-on-3 basketball league, Big 3, to air content from celebrities and athletes such as Serena Williams and Snoop Dogg. Will Smith has also joined the bidding group.
According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s not clear if Johnson will be lending financial support to the bid to acquire the networks.
In an emotional press conference last week, Johnson resigned as the Lakers’ president of the basketball operations, citing a desire to return to a more normal life, according to the Times. The basketball legend made the surprise announcement without telling Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, star player LeBron James or any coaches or players beforehand. Johnson, who also is a part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said it was a difficult decision but he was looking forward to doing things that make him happy.
Disney (NYSE: DIS) agreed to sell its regional sports networks by the middle of June as part of its $71 billion deal to buy 21st Century Fox Inc. (Nasdaq: FOX, FOXA), which closed last month. Regulators were concerned that Disney, which owns ESPN, would have too much control over the nation’s sports programming if it also owned the networks.
So far, the deal for 21 sports networks has received total bids of more than $10 billion, lower than the original estimates of up to $21 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Among the interested bidders is Liberty Media Corp. (Nasdaq: BATRA, BATRK), which is teaming with Major League Baseball in its bid, and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI)
Last month, one of Disney’s sports networks was sold: the New York Yankees bought the 80 percent of the YES network that the team didn’t own in a deal that valued the network at $3.5 billion.