The Los Angeles Clippers have been sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, reports the LA Times. The deal, which was set up on behalf of current Los Angeles Clippers’ proprietor Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly (who owns 50 percent of it), still needs to be finalized, but Ballmer pretty much has it in the bag.
How Was The Team Sold?
The deal comes after a tumultuous bidding war that pitted Ballmer against the Guggenheim Group (represented by David Geffen), and Los Angeles investors Tony Ressler and Steve Karsh. Ressler and Karsh bid $1.6 billion, while Geffen bid $1.2 billion. The amazing thing about this story is that back in January, Forbes estimated that the Clippers were worth only $575 million.
Furthermore, this would be the second most expensive sale in sports history. The priciest one occurred in 2012, when Frank McCourt sold the Los Angeles Dodgers to Guggenheim Baseball Management.
Why Did Ballmer Pay So Much?
Sterling’s wife, Shelly, was able to get the Los Angeles Clippers sold at such a high price for a few notable reasons. For one, another chance to purchase the Clippers may not come around for a long time. In addition, the 2011 collective bargaining contract between team owners and players effectively slashed revenue sharing to players by 7 percent. This means more money for the owners.
Last but not least is the simple fact that the Clippers’ new prospective owner is worth $20 billion. For him, spending $2 billion is really no biggie.
Will The Deal Be Approved?
This is where the story gets complicated. Exactly one week ago, on Thursday, May 22, Sterling gave his wife written permission to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. However, guess what else the extraordinarily unpredictable fellow did on that exact same day? According to the NY Daily News, he mailed a 32-page letter to the NBA in which he “vowed to fight to keep his team.”
At this point, there is no way to tell whether the Clippers will actually be sold. The deal is official, but who the heck can possibly know what’s on Sterling’s mind?
What Happens Now?
Obviously, approval from the Los Angeles Clippers current owner is needed for the team to be officially sold. Also needed is approval from the NBA’s 29 other team owners, not to mention the NBA commissioner. If Sterling continues to huff and puff, he will likely simply have his ownership stripped from him by the NBA Board of Governors when they meet on June 3 to discuss the Clippers’ fate.
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