After months of legal wrangling, the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was completed Tuesday, finally ending Donald Sterling’s tumultuous 33-year tenure as the team’s owner.
In a brief statement, the NBA confirmed the deal, saying the sale was finalized “following the entry of an order by a California court confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the team.
“The NBA Board of Governors previously approved the sale and Ballmer is now the Clippers Governor,” according to the league.
Attorneys for Donald Sterling, who bought the San Diego Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million and was often in conflict with the NBA, had filed a petition with a state appeals court on Friday asking for an emergency order blocking the sale. The court declined to take any action.
Ballmer said he was “humbled and honored” to be the Clippers owners.
“Clipper fans are so amazing,” he said. “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 team is planning a Fan Festival at noon Monday at Staples Center.
“This is an amazing new day in Clippers history,” said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who is also the team’s president of basketball operations. “I couldn’t be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization.”
On July 28, following weeks of testimony in a non-jury trial, Levanas ruled that Shelly Sterling had acted properly in removing Donald Sterling as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust that owned the team. The move came after two doctors examined Donald Sterling and determined him to be mentally incapacitated.
Sterling contended he had been duped by his wife into submitting to the medical tests as part of a plot to have him ousted.
There was no “secret plan to remove (Donald Sterling) from the trust,” the judge concluded.
Donald Sterling also has a civil rights lawsuit pending in federal court against the NBA, claiming he was being railroaded out of the league in violation of his constitutional rights.
The rogue owner has been under pressure to sell the team since the spring release of recorded conversations between him and a female companion, V. Stiviano.
In those conversations, Sterling criticized Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people and tells her not to bring them to Clippers games.
The comments earned Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA, which initiated actions to strip the Clippers from him. The league put those efforts on hold pending the decision on Shelly Sterling’s ability to sell the franchise.
Donald Sterling moved the Clippers to Los Angeles in 1984.
– City News Service contributed to this report
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