Memphis Grizzlies owner a bidder for Dodgers

Michael Heisley, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, has emerged as one of the remaining bidders for the Dodgers.

Heisley, 75, leads one of 11 bids that survived the initial cut in the Dodgers’ ownership derby. His bid, which had not previously surfaced publicly, was confirmed Wednesday by three people familiar with the sale process but not authorized to discuss it.

The remaining bidders can merge and late entrants can emerge, but for now the field appears set, according to one of those people.

Heisley was not available for comment Wednesday. The Dodgers do not comment on specific bidders.

Heisley bought the then-Vancouver Grizzlies in 2000, promising to do “everything in my power to make this franchise a success in Vancouver.” He moved the team to Memphis one year later, after a whirlwind relocation search in which Anaheim was a finalist.

Since then, Heisley has explored bids for the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Vikings, according to one of the people familiar with the Dodgers’ sale process.

Forbes estimated Heisley’s net worth at $1.5 billion last September. His Chicago company controls about three dozen businesses — largely focused on construction and manufacturing — that generate more than $2 billion in combined annual revenue, according to the company website. He built his self-made fortune by buying and improving troubled companies.

The Grizzlies won the first playoff series in franchise history last season, then lost in the NBA Western Conference semifinals to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 10 full seasons in Memphis, the Grizzlies have had six coaches and made four playoff appearances.

Heisley hired Lakers legend Jerry West as the Grizzlies’ president in 2002. The Grizzlies made three consecutive playoff appearances starting in 2004; West departed in 2007.

“Mike and I certainly had our share of ‘spirited discussions’ about what needed to happen for the team to go much further than just getting into the playoffs,” West wrote in his autobiography last year, “but at no time did I ever feel he wasn’t behind me.”

Heisley has long said he would be willing to sell the Grizzlies to owners based in Memphis.

“I’m 75 years old and I live in Chicago,” he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal in December. “A local owner — and it could be somebody willing to move there — would be a better owner than Mike Heisley. I have never changed that position. But we don’t have anybody interested in seriously buying the Grizzlies.”

–Bill Shaikin