LOS ANGELES — Steve Ballmer officially became the Clippers’ new owner Tuesday for a record $2 billion.
The team said the sale closed after a California court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise to Ballmer, a former Microsoft CEO. Her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, had unsuccessfully fought the sale of the team he owned since 1981 in court.
The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the sale.
“Really excited — in a pretty hardcore way — to continue the path to making the Clippers a better and better basketball team, and a better and better citizen of the Los Angeles community,” Ballmer told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Adam Streisand, Ballmer’s attorney, said Tuesday that Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas signed the order authorizing the sale even if Donald Sterling’s attorneys filed an appeal.
“We were ready,” Streisand said. “Within minutes, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered.”
Streisand said even if Donald Sterling seeks an emergency order directing the judge to vacate his order, the attorney is confident an appellate court would agree that Levanas made the correct decision.
Donald Sterling’s attorneys weren’t immediately available to comment.
The sale ends some troubling concerns that had surrounded the team in recent months. Doc Rivers possibly would have quit as coach if Sterling remained the owner, interim CEO Richard Parsons had testified. All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who also is president of the NBA Players Association, might have sat out and convinced other players to join him. Sponsors who already started to flee after a recording of Donald Sterling making racist comments was released might have stayed away for good.
None of that appears to be a problem with Ballmer taking over what could be a powerhouse team next season. By agreeing to the record purchase price, he already has proven he’s willing to spend, in contrast to the famously frugal Sterling.
Rivers called it “an amazing new day in Clippers history” and said he’s inspired by Ballmer’s passion for the game. Ballmer, Rivers and Clippers players will attend a new fan festival announced for next Monday at Staples Center.
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