It's official: Steve Ballmer owns the Los Angeles Clippers
AUG 12, 2014 12:54p ET
It's official: Steve Ballmer owns the Los Angeles Clippers.
The transaction closed Tuesday after the entry of an order by a California court confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling (on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust) to sell the team, according to a release from the NBA. Sterling is the estranged wife of the team's previous owner, Donald Sterling.
The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the sale.
"I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers," Ballmer said in a release. "Clipper fans are so amazing. They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times. I will be hard core in giving the team, our great coach, staff and players the support they need to do their best work on the court. And we will do whatever necessary to provide our fans and their families with the best game-night experience in the NBA."
Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, had put in a $2 billion bid for the Clippers months ago. He inherits a team that finished 57-25, won the Pacific Division for the second straight season and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.
The Sterlings bought the Clippers 33 years ago for $12.5 million. The team, which was not competitive for much of the Sterlings’ ownership, has surged in recent years with stars like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, making the playoffs the past three seasons after accomplishing that feat only four times in the previous 30 years.
Then came the April disclosure of the tape of Donald Sterling talking to a female friend, V. Stiviano, and expressing dismay that she had posted a photo on a social media website that showed her with NBA legend Magic Johnson.
In one exchange on the recording, which was made last September, Sterling told Stiviano to say away from Clippers games — "don't bring black people, and don't come."
Those remarks, first reported by the website TMZ, ignited a firestorm that led NBA commissioner Adam Silver to ban Sterling from the league for life, fine him $2.5 million and launch the process of wresting control of the team from him and forcing its sale.
"This is an amazing new day in Clippers history," Clippers head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers said in a release. "I couldn't be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization. I am already inspired by Steve's passion for the game, his love of competition and desire to win the right way, and I know our players and fans are going to be inspired as well."
After the NBA comissioner's ruling, Shelly Sterling -- initally with her estranged husband's blessing -- began the process of selling the team. But after Donald Sterling refused to sign off on the deal with Ballmer, she removed him from a decision-making position in the family trust that held the team’s parent company, LAC Basketball Club Inc. Shelly Sterling took that step after two doctors examined her husband of 58 years and concluded that he was suffering from dementia, likely as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, and could no longer manage his own affairs.
She then filed a petition in Los Angeles probate court seeking an order allowing the sale to be concluded. Donald Sterling opposed that petition, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas issued a tentative ruling two weeks ago allowing the sale of the team to go forward.
--FOX Sports writer Kevin Vaughan contributed.