Donald Sterling, disgraced and stripped of his NBA franchise after recorded racist remarks were released by a girlfriend, fought to hold on to the Los Angles Clippers, and insulted even more people along the way. But all his fight was for naught, as a California court Tuesday confirmed his wife Shelly’s authority to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Minutes after the ruling, the $2 billion deal was inked and Sterling was officially out, his legal options over. And so Doc Rivers, the coach who reportedly contemplated quitting if Sterling remained owner, and players like Chris Paul can abandon the notion of sitting out in protest of Sterling.
“It’s very, very exciting. I’m a basketball nut,” Ballmer said in an interview with ESPN. “I’ve got time. I love Los Angeles. I love Seattle, too, which is where we have our home. But the notion of spending a lot of time in Los Angeles has been exciting to me for years. The community down there is great. I look forward to supporting the community, the fan base, the staff, Doc [Rivers] and the players to take this thing to higher heights.”
Ballmer was unable to complete the sale until Tuesday’s written court order affirmed Shelly Sterling’s authority to sell the franchise without the consent of her husband, Donald Sterling. There was frustration in the delay, Ballmer said. But he held steadfast.
“My job has been to complete the deal and there were a lot of people, including me, working on it for a long time,” Ballmer said. “Was I kind of itchy? Sure. But I knew the only thing I could do or should do was complete the final deal, and we were able to do that.”
The NBA’s board of governors interviewed Ballmer on July 15, then took a vote electronically last week in which he was unanimously approved as an owner, sources told ESPN.
Ballmer decided he would complete the sale as soon as Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas’ written order came in, which occurred at 11:30 a.m.
“We were ready,” Adam Streisand, Ballmer’s attorney, said. “Within minutes, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered.”
In a statement, Rivers said it was “an amazing 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. 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.”
Paul added: “I am very excited about Mr. Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers. I’ve had a chance to meet him, and his excitement for the game of basketball and our team is going to be great for the league, the city of Los Angeles and Clipper fans everywhere.”