Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from censured owner Donald Sterling for $2 billion, he announced Thursday.
The purchase, which would be the priciest team acquisition in the league's history, must be approved by the 29 other team owners.
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"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. 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 in a statement.
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Ballmer's $2 billion offer for the Clippers far surpasses the previous record for an NBA team -- $550 million paid this month for the Milwaukee Bucks. The price checks in at the second most expensive sports purchase, behind the 2012 sale of the Dodgers for $2.1 billion.
Ballmer signed a binding contract with Shelly Sterling, who was acting as sole trustee of the Sterling family trust, which owns the team.
"I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner," Shelly Sterling said. "We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success."
News of the deal comes days before the NBA Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on whether to sustain charges against Sterling that he damaged the league by disparaging black people in a recorded conversation with his companion V. Stiviano. If the NBA's other 29 owners sustain the charge by a three-fourths vote, both Sterlings would be stripped of team ownership, according to The Associated Press. It was not immediately clear how the deal will affect the hearing.
In the recording, Sterling chastised Stiviano for posting Instagram pictures of herself posing with black people, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
Johnson congratulated and praised Ballmer in several messages on Twitter Thursday and called him “my friend.”
“Steve Ballmer owning the Clippers is a big win for the City of LA and all the people who live in the City of Angels!” Johnson said.
Sterling's lawyers on Tuesday delivered a 26-page response letter to the NBA demanding the league to allow him to keep the team, calling the audio recording a "lovers' tiff" that stemmed from a "jealous reaction to Ms. Stiviano's statement that she was going to 'bring four gorgeous black guys to the game.'"