LOS ANGELES (AP) Steve Ballmer finally has an NBA outlet for his rah-rah displays of emotion as the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The former Microsoft CEO’s record $2 billion purchase of the team was confirmed by a Los Angeles judge on Tuesday, clearing the way for the avid pickup basketball player to take over the team from Donald Sterling, who unsuccessfully fought his estranged wife over the sale.
The sale achieves Ballmer’s longtime goal of owning a team. He made a bid last year before owners chose to keep the Kings in Sacramento, rather than allow them to be sold to a group that included Ballmer and moved to Seattle.
The sale ousted Donald Sterling as the NBA’s longest-tenured owner. He bought the team in 1981 for $12 million and presided over decades of losing seasons before battling his estranged wife in probate court to hold on to his most prized asset.
Ballmer takes over what could be a powerhouse team next season, led by coach Doc Rivers. By agreeing to the record purchase price, he has already proven he is willing to spend in contrast to the famously frugal Sterling, long regarded as the worst owner in the NBA.
After the Sterling audio became public, the NBA banned him for life and fined him $2.5 million.
Sterling was apologetic, but his mea culpa backfired when he criticized Lakers great Magic Johnson, who had been photographed with Sterling’s girlfriend, as a bad role model for kids because he had HIV. The 80-year-old real estate mogul was roundly condemned around the league.
With the NBA threatening to seize the team and auction it, Sterling initially gave his wife of 58 years permission to negotiate a sale but then refused to sign the Ballmer deal. He said he would sue the league instead and then revoked the trust, which his lawyers said effectively killed the deal.
Shelly Sterling removed Donald as a trustee after doctors found he had symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.