Play ball: Steve Ballmer takes over as LA Clippers owner after court confirms $2 billion sale

  • Article by: BETH HARRIS , Associated Press
  • Updated: August 13, 2014 - 2:21 AM

Steve Ballmer in 2011

Photo: Paul Sakuma, Associated Press - Ap

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LOS ANGELES — Steve Ballmer finally has an NBA outlet for his rah-rah displays of emotion as the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The former Microsoft CEO's record $2 billion purchase of the team was confirmed by a Los Angeles judge on Tuesday, clearing the way for the avid pickup basketball player to take over the team from Donald Sterling, who unsuccessfully fought his estranged wife over the sale.

The sale achieves Ballmer's longtime goal of owning a team. He made a bid last year before owners chose to keep the Kings in Sacramento, rather than allow them to be sold to a group that included Ballmer and moved to Seattle.

Now the man with the booming voice and energetic high-fives, who was Microsoft's biggest booster, has got his own team to share with his wife and three sons.

"We're a family that likes basketball," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Ballmer, who lives in the Seattle area, said he hopes to attend a lot of Clippers games next season. He said interim CEO Dick Parsons has agreed to stay on for the time being.

"That gives me a chance to figure this all out," he said.

The sale ousted Donald Sterling as the NBA's longest-tenured owner. He bought the team in 1981 for $12 million and presided over decades of losing seasons before battling his estranged wife in probate court to hold on to his most prized asset.

Adam Streisand, Ballmer's attorney, said Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas signed the order authorizing the sale even if Donald Sterling's attorneys filed an appeal, which they did late Tuesday.

"Donald Sterling's petitions are patently frivolous," said Pierce O'Donnell, Shelly's attorney. "Donald's request for relief is moot."

O'Donnell said his side filed an opposition urging denial of the petitions. He said the Sterling Family Trust received money from the sale earlier Tuesday.

Donald Sterling's attorneys weren't available to comment.

The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the deal.

"Really excited — in a pretty hardcore way — to continue the path to making the Clippers a better and better basketball team, and a better and better citizen of the Los Angeles community," Ballmer told the AP.

The sale was welcome news to All-Star power forward Blake Griffin.

"I look forward to having Mr. Ballmer as the owner and continuing our pursuit of a championship," he said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he had urged Donald Sterling to sell the team after a recording surfaced in April of the owner scolding his girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games, and he welcomed Ballmer.

"We have somebody who's going to keep the team here, who has the resources to continue to build the Clippers," the mayor said.

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