Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, an 80-year-old married lawyer and billionaire real-estate investor, has agreed to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, and will drop his lawsuit against the National Basketball Association.
Sterling has been banned for life and fined $2.5 million by the NBA for racist remarks he made in a taped recording that were leaked to the media in April. Most of the players in the NBA are black.
The much-criticized businessman later has said that his remarks to a “lover” about not being photographed with black people or bringing them to Clippers games were a part of a jealous quarrel that was illegally recorded under California law.
His attorney, Maxwell Blecher, said that Sterling “has made an agreement with the NBA to resolve all their differences” and as co-owner has given his consent to a deal that was negotiated by his wife, Shelly Sterling, to sell the team.
Actually, a nearly six-week battle over the future of the Clipper came to an apparent end last week, after former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer bid $2 billion for the team, nearly four times the previous high price for an NBA franchise.
However, NBA owners still have to approve the sale to Ballmer, who has indicated he would keep the team in Los Angeles. Ballmer, according to Forbes magazine, is worth $20.3 billion.
“I love basketball and I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win – and win big – in Los Angeles,” Ballmer said.
The tech billionaire added: “L.A. is one of the world’s great cities – a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community.”
Ballmer bid topped those of by Guggenheim Partners and a group including former NBA All-Star Grant Hill. Ballmer even personally visited Shelly Sterling’s Malibu home last week to discuss the future of the team.
“I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers,” Ballmer said in a statement.
“I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process.”
As part of the deal, Steeling also agreed to dismiss his lawsuit, he filed last week against the NBA and league commissioner Adam Silver for at least $1 billion in damages, alleging the NBA forced him to sell the franchise based on a recording illegal under California law, says Reuters.
The lawsuit was filed at the same time as the NBA tentatively agreed to the Clippers sale and as part of the deal, wife Shelly Sterling agreed that neither she nor the trust that owns the team would sue the league. Sterling, who co-owns the team with Shelly Sterling, also listed the Sterling Family Trust as a plaintiff in the suit against the NBA.