Steve Ballmer and the Los Angeles Clippers. Get used to hearing those names in the same sentence, because, pending approval from the rest of the NBA’s owners, the former CEO of Microsoft will be taking over ownership of the team from Donald Sterling and his wife.
Steve Ballmer, 58, put up a bid of $2 billion, which is the most ever offered for an NBA team.
His bid was approved in a statement by the NBA last Friday, according to ESPN.com Los Angeles. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors which would make the sale of Clippers final was scheduled for this Tuesday, but it was cancelled.
As part of the sale to Balmer, the ESPN.com Los Angeles article states that Shelly Sterling and the rest of the Sterling family agreed to not sue the league, and “to absolve the league of litigation by others, including Donald Sterling.” Another one of the agreement terms states that Ballmer will not move the team out of Los Angeles.
Just before the league announced its approval of Ballmer’s bid, ESPN.com Los Angeles also revealed that Donald Sterling filed a lawsuit against the league asking for $1 billion in damages. Sterling’s lawyer told ESPN.com‘s Ramona Shelburne that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the sale of the team, but does address the “invasion of (Sterling’s) constitutional rights, violation of antitrust laws, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.”
As for the Clippers’soon-to-be new owner, those close to Balmer say his bid to buy the team isn’t surprising in the least.
“Steve is a big NBA fan, and I grew up going to Warriors games so we talked hoops, mostly,” Doug Free, a former public relations manager for Microsoft in Silicon Valley, told the Los Angeles Times. “Steve is the kind of guy that is very competitive and commits fully to whatever he does. I figured once he stepped away from running Microsoft he would buy a major sports franchise, and when he does, he will go all in.”
The LA Times article states this isn’t the first time Balmer’s been involved with the NBA. He was part of a group that tried to keep the Seattle SuperSonics in Seattle and also tried to buy the Sacramento Kings. Balmer did this while he was still at Microsoft.
As for Ballmer, he has big plans for the team’s future.
“I’d love to win a championship. I’d love the Clippers to be the most dynamic, vibrant team and name in professional sports,” he told the LA Times.
Ballmer went on to add that:
“The only way any of this makes sense — my desire to spend time in Los Angeles, this team, its aspirations, this community, this purchase price, any of that — is to really live out the dream and make this kind of America’s team.”
Ballmer also confirmed to the LA Times that one of the agreements of the sale was Shelly Sterling would have what is called an “owner-emeritus” status where she would be welcome to attend Clippers’ games. Her husband, however, is still banned from the league for life.
ESPN.com Los Angeles reports that acting director of the National Basketball Players Association Rom Klempner wrote players a letter which praised Ballmer, and said, “If the transaction is consummated, it will represent a very positive step toward ending a very unfortunate time for our league.”
Klempner went on:
“As opposed to an owner who notoriously invested little in his team over the years, the proposed new owner is one who, based on his pedigree, history and the investment he already has pledged to make in the franchise, should be an innovator and a contributor. Not just in terms of his approach to players, but generally in the manner in which he is expected to market the team and the product.”
No date has been announced for Ballmer’s rescheduled meeting with the NBA Board of Governors.
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