The Los Angeles Clippers have a new owner, pending a final approval by the NBA.
Shelly Sterling, estranged wife of banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, reached an agreement to sell the team to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer for $2 billion just before midnight on Thursday (May 29), as first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
"I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner," Shelly Sterling said in a statement to ESPN. "We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success."
For Ballmer, who previously failed in a bid to purchase the Sacramento Kings, the successful buy of the Clippers marks retribution and a craved opportunity to be involved in basketball for the billionaire.
"I love basketball," Ballmer said in a statement to ESPN. "And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles. L.A. is one of the world's great cities — a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community."
According to an ESPN report, Shelly became the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust only recently when husband Donald Sterling, 80, was found by experts to be mentally incapacitated. That allowed Shelly to negotiate directly with Ballmer. On Tuesday, Donald Sterling’s lawyer, Max Blecher, told ESPN that his client has "disavowed" the agreement struck with his wife last week that would allow her to negotiate the sale of the Clippers. Blecher also said that Sterling would fight the NBA's charges against him "to the bloody end."
Still, the agreement must see a final approval by the NBA. In addition, the league will still hold its scheduled hearing against Sterling on June 3 in New York City. If 75 percent of league owners vote against Sterling and approve the sale of the team to Ballmer, then the ex-Microsoft CEO will be named owner.
Already, the proposed sale to Ballmer has received acclaim.
“Steve Ballmer owning the Clippers is a big win for the City of L.A. and all the people who live in the City of Angels!” tweeted Magic Johnson on Thursday night.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life and fined him a league maximum $2.5 million late last month for making racist remarks toward African-Americans in a recorded conversation with former confidant V. Stiviano. On a $2 billion sale of the Clippers, the Sterlings stand to pay $662 million in capital gains taxes, ESPN reported.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)