With Oprah, Magic Johnson and Oscar De La Hoya and more interested, Shelly Sterling can't be the answer to who buys the Clippers if and when Donald Sterling is forced to sell the team.

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You want to buy the Los Angeles Clippers?

Get in line. And get ready to cut one whale of a check.

With the widespread belief in the NBA that Commissioner Adam Silver will be able to follow through on his lifetime ban and ousting of shamed Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the question of who will fill his deep pockets took on a life of its own in the wake of the unprecedented ruling. Let the whale-watching begin.

Magic Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers legend who was dragged into this saga when Sterling could be heard on revealed audio admonishing his girlfriend for posting pictures of Johnson on her Instagram account, has denied reports that he'll join forces with the Guggenheim Partners to purchase the team — but don't buy that just yet.

'TYRANNICAL': Sterling is a terror in court

OUSTER: Kings owner predicts 29-0 vote

Oprah Winfrey's spokesperson, Nicole Nichols, confirmed in an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports that she is part of an interested group that would be the perfect social counterpunch to the below-the-belt shot that Sterling landed with his comments.

"Oprah Winfrey is in discussions with (entertainment mogul) David Geffen and (Oracle CEO) Larry Ellison to make a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers, should the team become available," Nichols wrote.

Talk about packing a punch in the pocketbook. According to Forbes, Winfrey is the richest African-American in the world (net worth $2.9 billion), Geffen's net worth is $6.2 billion and Ellison's ($50.2 billion) ranks him as the fifth richest person on the planet.

"Between the three of us, we have a good shot," Geffen told ESPN.

GALLERY: Donald Sterling through the years

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Music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs has expressed interest, as have boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO who was part of the group that failed in its attempt to buy the Sacramento Kings for an offered price of $625 million and move them to Seattle last May, attended the Clippers' playoff game on Tuesday and sparked buzz that his group could be in the mix.

All of which makes it all the more absurd that Shelly Sterling would receive consideration. Despite suspicions among players and league executives that Donald Sterling may attempt to simply transfer ownership to his wife, it's time for a clean cut from the Sterling era — especially considering the discriminatory warning signs that are in her past just as they are in his.

Shelly Sterling, who received Rivers' permission to attend the Clippers' Game 5 win vs. the Golden State Warriors and sat in a suite, did very little to help her own cause in recent days. Despite a TMZ report indicating that she had been estranged from Donald Sterling for years and in which she admonished him for his views, the media outlet captured the couple leaving a steakhouse near Staples Center on Monday night. When a cameraman asks Donald Sterling if he's racist, Shelly Sterling can be heard yelling, "No, of course not" and also saying the stories were "not true."

STIVIANO: Attended same high school as Sterlings

PRESSURE: Owners must now make right decision

What's more, a Los Angeles Times report published Tuesday on a 2003 court order that paints an unflattering picture of Shelly Sterling. As part of a housing discrimination lawsuit against Donald Sterling, she was accused of posing as a health inspector in her husband's rental properties and requiring an associate to "record tenants' ethnicity during inspections." There also were accusations of racist language being used when dealing with minority tenants.

Late Tuesday night, after Rivers had talked of the compassion he feels for Shelly Sterling and indicated that she asked him to tell his players that she loved him, the Clippers coach was shown the Times story by another reporter.

"We're going to find out new things every day," Rivers said, according to the reporter.

VIDEO: Rivers on the Clippers' healing process

After Donald Sterling's lifetime ban was announced, Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said the team can now "begin the healing process" but the struggle with racial discrimination is far from over. VPC

Yet even with new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive telling Good Morning America that he expects a 29-0 vote to remove Sterling by the owners, there's likely a long way to go until the team is actually for sale. Sterling is as litigious as they come, always willing to fight for every penny in court even when he's on the wrong side of the argument. But if the owners follow through as expected on their vote to have him removed, and if the combination of financial and social pressures leads him to sell, the sticker price will be a league record by a long shot.

Consider that the small-market Kings' sale eventually last year went for a then-league-record $535 million valuation to the NBA's first Indian owner, Vivek Ranadive, and his group. The Milwaukee Bucks eclipsed that mark earlier this month, when New York hedge fund investors paid $550 million for a team that not only plays in a small market but that hasn't survived past the first round of the playoffs since 2001 and has missed the postseason altogether in eight of 13 seasons since.

The Clippers aren't for sale yet, but make no mistake: The bidding war has unofficially begun.

VIDEO: Silver shows strength with Sterling ban

In his first watershed moment as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver proved he was up to the task. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports

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