It looks like Steve Ballmer is going to be the new owner of the L.A. Clippers. (Microsoft Sweden)
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion from the Sterling family trust, according to several sources Thursday night. If approved by the NBA, the deal would be the largest amount ever paid for an NBA team, topping the previous record of $550 million paid for the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this year.
The deal was not signed by Donald Sterling since he was deemed to be mentally incapacitated by mental health experts, leaving his estranged wife and co-owner, Shelly Sterling, to head the sale of the team under terms established in the Sterling family trust. The deal was submitted to the NBA Thursday for final approval after it was signed, sources said.
Donald Sterling, 80, was banned from the NBA for life by Commissioner Adam Silver earlier this month after an audiotape of him making racially charged remarks toward minorities was released by TMZ. Silver also said the league would force the sale of the Clippers as soon as possible, but many expected the historically litigious Sterling to drag out the sale process in courts as long as he could.
Ballmer’s $2 billion bid topped a $1.6 billion bid by a group led by music mogul David Geffen and a $1.2 billion bid from L.A. investors Tony Ressler and Steve Karsh. This was Ballmer’s second attempt at buying an NBA team. Last year, he was part of a group that tried to purchase the Sacramento Kings with the intent to move them to Seattle, but NBA voters voted the proposal down. Under this agreement, however, there is expected to be a stipulation that would impede any new owner to relocate the Clippers.
There had been contradictory statements coming from Donald and Shelly Sterling’s camps throughout the week. Earlier in the week, Donald Sterling’s lawyer, Max Belcher, said Sterling vowed to fight the forced sale of the team and sent a 32-page letter to the NBA that addressed the forced sale. Belcher has not commented since it was announced that the Sterling family trust had signed off on the deal.
Shelly Sterling had been pushing to complete the sale of the team ahead of Tuesday’s NBA Board of Governors meeting, where both the Sterlings’ ownership interests could have been terminated.
Thursday’s news of the sale was not the only Donald Sterling-related news of the day. According to a survey by E-Poll Market Research, Sterling is also the most hated man in America. According to the survey, 92 percent of Americans dislike Sterling, which put him ahead of Bernie Madoff (90 percent), O.J. Simpson (88 percent) and Aaron Hernandez (81 percent).