The sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been completed, the NBA announced on its website Tuesday morning.
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The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the $2 billion deal, which was officially and quickly closed after a California court issued an order confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling to sell the team on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, the league said. Shelly Sterling was the sole trustee after her husband, Donald Sterling, was found mentally incapacitated by two doctors and subsequently removed as a co-trustee.
The price paid for the Clippers by Ballmer is the most ever for an NBA franchise.
I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ballmer said in a statement. 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.
The sale comes after a flurry of litigation filed by Donald Sterling in an effort to derail the deal. He fought his removal as co-trustee and filed two other lawsuits one contending his wife and Ballmer violated corporate law and the other seeking more than $1 billion in damages from the NBA.
But it was the fight over the Sterling family trust that mattered most to closing the deal, and Shelly Sterling scored a clean sweep over her husband on July 28 when a California Superior Court Judge Micheal Levanas concluded that Shelly Sterling had followed the rules of the trust and met her fiduciary responsibility to her husband.
Rochelle's testimony was far and away more credible than Donald, Levanas said in issuing an oral opinion. Donald's answers were often evasive and, in one instance, were inconsistent with his previous testimony.
While the sale may not end all the litigation, it should end any potential controversy involving Clippers players, who had talked about a possible boycott if Donald Sterling was still the owner when the 2014-15 season starts in October. Coach Doc Rivers, who also had discussed the possibility of resigning if a change in ownership did not occur, called Tuesday's sale an amazing new day in Clippers history.
I couldn't be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization, said Rivers, who is also president of basketball operations. 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.
Silver had said the league would move to strip the Sterlings' ownership if the sale was not final by Sept. 15.