NBA resolves dispute with Sterlings, will approve Clippers sale to Steve Ballmer
The NBA has announced it has resolved its dispute with the Sterling family and will approve the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer.
Under the agreement announced Friday, Ballmer will purchase the Clippers for the $2 billion he agreed to, pending a vote from the NBA's Board of Governors. The NBA will terminate its charge to remove Donald and Shelly Sterling from ownership and will cancel its June 3 meeting to oust the Sterlings from ownership.
In addition, Shelly Sterling and the family's trust agreed not to sue the NBA or "indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling," according to a release.
The agreement comes in the wake of Donald Sterling's lawyer announcing Friday that his client planned to file a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA. But the agreement between the NBA and the Sterling family trust appears to deal a significant blow to Donald Sterling's chances of winning any judgment in court.
According to Sterling's lawyer, Max Blecher, the lawsuit's charges would include an invasion of Sterling’s constitutional rights, violation of anti-trust laws and breach of fiduciary duty associated with the NBA’s lifetime ban and termination charges.
Earlier Friday, TMZ.com reported Donald Sterling had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Sterling was diagnosed by doctors earlier this month, which led him to be declared “mentally incapacitated” – a determination that removed him from power of the Sterling family trust and, by extension, the Clippers. That left Shelly Sterling as the sole trustee of the family’s trust, a status which fully empowered her to sign a $2 billion agreement to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Because of the binding agreement to sell the Clippers, all that's left to turn the Clippers over to Ballmer is a vote from the NBA's Board of Governors.
Ballmer, 58, served as CEO of Microsoft from 2000 until Feb. 2014.
“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,” Ballmer said in a statement. “I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process.”
In 2013, Ballmer was involved in the failed attempted purchase of the Sacramento Kings with the intention to move them to Seattle and re-brand the organization as the Supersonics.
In a press statement released Friday, Ballmer indicated his excitement to own a team in Los Angeles, and he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that he would not attempt to relocate the team.
“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. “L.A. is one of the world’s great cities – a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community.”
Ballmer’s net worth has been pegged at more than $20 billion by Forbes, which would make him the richest owner in American professional sports. The $2 billion sale price would set a record for an NBA team, obliterating the $550 million sale price for the Milwaukee Bucks. Only Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, which sold recently for $2.1 billion, have been sold for a higher price.
SI.com's Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver contributed to this report.
More SI.com NBA playoff coverage
STERLING COVERAGE: NBA’s checklist before approving sale of Clippers