Steve Ballmer confirmed as new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers

Former Microsoft chief executive closes $2bn deal to acquire NBA team previously owned by disgraced mogul Donald Sterling

Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer is officially the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, his attorney has confirmed.

Attorney Adam Streisand said the deal was closed Tuesday morning following weeks of legal wrangling between the team’s previous owner, billionaire Donald Sterling, and his estranged wife, Shelly.

A California court recently upheld Shelly Sterling’s right to sell the franchise after she struck a deal with Ballmer, who bid a record $2bn for the team.

“I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers,” Ballmer said in a statement on Tuesday. “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 National Basketball Association (NBA) board of governors previously approved the sale, making Ballmer the Clippers Governor, the NBA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The firestorm that eventually led to the sale of team began when the 80-year-old real estate magnate was heard on a leaked recording released by TMZ in April making racists comments.

On the audio recording, Sterling tells his mistress, V Stiviano, to stop bringing black guests to Clippers games. He also complained that Stiviano posed with Magic Johnson and other black people in photos posted on Instagram.

Days after the recordings were made public, the NBA banished Sterling for life, and fined him $2.5m, the maximum allowed under the league’s unpublished constitution.

Shelly Sterling, 79, then took control of the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers, and organized the sale. Donald Sterling sued to stop the deal, but a superior judge said Shelly had the authority to sell the team.

The judge also found that Shelly had acted properly when she removed her husband as trustee, on grounds of mental incapacitation. During the trial Sterling displayed erratic behavior, professing his love for his wife and then at another point shouting “get away from me you pig!”

“This is an amazing new day in Clippers history,” Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization.”

Rivers had threatened to quit if Sterling remained the owner of the Clippers, the team’s interim CEO, Richard Parsons, testified in court.


Lauren Gambino in New York

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