Steve Ballmer is officially the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The NBA announced in a statement Tuesday morning that the former Microsoft CEO's purchase of the basketball franchise had closed, following a court order allowing Shelly Sterling to sell the team for a record $2 billion.
Ballmer and Shelly Sterling had agreed to terms of the sale on May 29, but the transaction was tied up as she and her husband Donald Sterling battled in probate court over whether or not she had the authority to do so.
On July 28, judge Michael Levanas had issued a tentative ruling overwhelmingly in Shelly Sterling's favor, even granting a rare probate exception allowing a sale to go through regardless of appeal. He finalized the order on Tuesday.
“The transaction in which Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers closed today 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 said in a statement. “The NBA Board of Governors previously approved the sale and Ballmer is now the Clippers Governor.”
Donald Sterling had owned the franchise since 1981, but his racist comments to female friend V. Stiviano were published by TMZ in late April.
The controversy resulted in his lifetime ban from the NBA, with the league poised to terminate his interest in the team and force a sale. That latter step became unnecessary once Shelly Sterling removed her husband as a trustee on the basis of mental incapacity, and negotiated a sale to Ballmer on her own.
Ballmer's bid of $2 billion exceeded even Bank of America's most “aggressive” valuation of the franchise by at least $200 million. The bank's Anwar Zakkour, who advised the sale, called the price “nirvana” during his testimony last month — and doubted it could be matched in the future if Ballmer were not involved.
“I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers,” Ballmer said in a statement. “Clipper fans are so amazing. They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times. I will be hardcore 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.”
Ballmer will attend a Clipper Fan Festival at the Staples Center at noon next Monday, along with head coach Doc Rivers and Clippers players.
“This is an amazing new day in Clippers history,” 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. 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.”