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Shelly Sterling agrees to sell Clippers to Ballmer for $2B

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:18 a.m. HST, May 30, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-breaking $2 billion. Now it's up to others whether the deal goes through.

Shelly Sterling said in a statement issued late Thursday that she'd signed a binding contract for a sale of the Clippers by The Sterling Family Trust to Ballmer in what would be a record deal if approved by the NBA.

Ballmer "will be a terrific owner," Sterling said, "We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premier NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success."

Sterling negotiated the sale after her husband, Donald Sterling, made racist remarks that were made public. The remarks included Sterling telling girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring blacks to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

Shelly Sterling's statement noted that she made the deal "under her authority as the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers." Donald Sterling's attorneys contend that he is a co-owner and therefore must give his assent for the deal to go through. They also say he won't be giving it.

"Sterling is not selling the team," said his attorney, Bobby Samini. "That's his position. He's not going to sell."

Ballmer beat out bids by Guggenheim Partners and a group including former NBA All-Star Grant Hill after presenting an "all-around superior bid," according to an individual with knowledge of the negotiations. The individual, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said Ballmer made more than an hour-long personal visit to Shelly Sterling's Malibu home Sunday and laid out his plan.

"He knocked their socks off, they bonded, had a good connection," the individual said. The amount was also the largest of the offers, and Ballmer was one potential buyer to deal with rather than numerous members of a group.

Ballmer said in a statement that he is honored to have his name submitted to the NBA for approval and thanked the league for working collaboratively with him throughout the process.

"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. "LA 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."

On Thursday, Magic Johnson lauded the deal on his Twitter account: "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!"

Though Donald Sterling's attorneys now say he won't agree to sell the team, a May 22 letter obtained by The Associated Press and written by another of Sterling's attorneys that says that "Donald T. Sterling authorizes Rochelle Sterling to negotiate with the National Basketball Association regarding all issues in connection with a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers team." It includes the line "read and approved" and Donald Sterling's signature.

Samini said Sterling has had a change of heart primarily because of "the conduct of the NBA." He said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million as well as to try to oust him as an owner was him acting as "judge, jury and executioner."

"They're telling me he should stand back and let them take his team because his opinion on that particular day was not good, was not popular?" Samini said. "It doesn't make sense. He's going to fight."

It's unclear how the agreement will affect a special hearing of NBA owners planned for Tuesday in New York to consider the charge against Donald Sterling for damaging the league with his comments. A three-quarters vote of the 30 owners to support the charge would have resulted in the termination of both Sterlings' ownership of the franchise. The deal is expected to be presented to the league before Tuesday, according to the individual.

Silver has said his preference would be for the franchise to be sold rather than seized -- and that means sold in its entirety, with neither Sterling retaining a stake. Though according to the deal's terms Ballmer will own 100 percent of the team, Shelly Sterling may continue to be involved under conditions worked out privately with Ballmer, the individual said.

Franchise sale prices have soared since the current collective bargaining agreement was ratified in 2011. The Milwaukee Bucks were just sold to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million, an NBA record.

Last year, Vivek Ranadive's group acquired a 65 percent controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings at a total franchise valuation of more than $534 million.

This is not Ballmer's first foray into potential NBA ownership. Ballmer and investor Chris Hansen headed a group that agreed to a deal to buy the Kings from the Maloof family in January 2013 with the intention of moving the team to Seattle, where the SuperSonics played until 2008.

But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson lobbied the NBA for time to put together a bid to keep the team in California, and though the Ballmer-Hansen group later increased its offer, owners voted to deny the bid for relocation and the Kings were sold to Ranadive.

The former Microsoft CEO helped Bill Gates transform the company from a startup with fewer than 40 employees and $12 million in annual revenue into the world's most valuable business. The pair met in 1973 while living down the hall from each other in a Harvard dorm.

During his tenure at Microsoft, Ballmer was known for his competitive drive and wild displays of emotion and hand-waving.

At his farewell address to Microsoft employees, he high-fived and hugged audience members, pumped his fists in the air, and even shed tears as the popular 1987 song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" played on the sound system. In a video of the event widely viewed on YouTube, he screams: "You work for the greatest company in the world!"

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cojef wrote:
Capital gains on this is tremendously beneficial to the Sterlings, should he decide to go along with his wife desires to sell. Another billionaire in the makings, the Mrs.
on May 29,2014 | 02:13PM
serious wrote:
Capital gains are always beneficial to everyone, that's the reason the rich politicians always fight it but pass it. That's how Obama got into that low tax bracket. But, aside of that wasn't Oprah yelling and screaming that there weren't enough black NBA owners--money talks.
on May 29,2014 | 02:21PM
calentura wrote:
How you figure Obama benefitted from capital gains taxes? Did he buy and sell something for a huge profit? Maybe you meant that's how Romney got into a lower tax bracket. And yes, money talks. If Oprah's group offered $2.1 billion, they would be the new owners.
on May 29,2014 | 07:10PM
PokeStop wrote:
Awesome deal for Donald Sterling! Magic Johnson, Jessie Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, and all the kuro's made Sterling a very wealthy man.
on May 29,2014 | 02:17PM
geralddeheer wrote:
Sterling already is a wealthy man. Are you suggesting that Magic et al are fools? No one said Sterling couldn't take a profit. The NBA Com. spoke and Sterling and family have to get out of the NBA. It is not an awesome deal. This is a repudiation. The money he makes is his problem.
on May 29,2014 | 02:36PM
Pocho wrote:
Sterling more wealthy now plus he one ole fut. Kinda hefty already but I bet he puts away more beef than usual not being able to go to the games.
on May 29,2014 | 03:14PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
on May 29,2014 | 03:36PM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Great. The Clippers are now going to freeze up, crash, get viruses and need constant updates.
on May 29,2014 | 03:00PM
808mobile wrote:
Seattle Clippers
on May 29,2014 | 03:23PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
How can a corporate CEO have SO much money?
on May 29,2014 | 03:36PM
groinksan wrote:
Did you just spontaneously write that comment? Ballmer is one of three men (Bill Gates and Paul Allen) who co-founded Microsoft Corporation. He's been with the company since 1975 when he, along with the others left Harvard and moved to New Mexico to start their company. He didn't just recently become a CEO and became an instant billionaire as a result. He still owns a very good percentage of the company.
on May 29,2014 | 05:30PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
I guess it is little people like us who go buy the PCs and software and use Windows and Word that make these folks rich, just like w Apple. What was the name of the guy in Hawaii that was part of the original team and didn't make money? I remember reading about it in the SA
on May 29,2014 | 03:42PM
Anonymous wrote:
Isn't that the same guy that drove one of the biggest companies of the 80s and 90s into the ground? Look at their stock chart, huge mountain, then flat line for 20 years. I think they refer to that as a Balmer now.
on May 29,2014 | 04:03PM
entrkn wrote:
If he runs the Clippers like the Seahawks, the Clippers will be the team to try to beat for the foreseeable future.
on May 29,2014 | 04:10PM
AhiPoke wrote:
You got the wrong Microsoft guy. It's Paul Allen who owns the Seahawks not Steve Ballmer.
on May 29,2014 | 05:55PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Well, I guess those league wizards in the NBA really punished that Sterling guy. Buys a team for $12.5 million and sells for $1.8 billion.
on May 29,2014 | 06:38PM
calentura wrote:
You must not own anything that money cannot replace.
on May 29,2014 | 08:59PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Maybe I'll cry a little but $1.8 billion will help me get through the pain.
on May 29,2014 | 09:10PM
hawaiikone wrote:
A basketball team? Really?
on May 30,2014 | 07:04AM
Shotzy wrote:
As long as Obama is happy , that's all that really matters.
on May 29,2014 | 06:54PM
zoomzoom65 wrote:
Sad to see a person with all this wealth, don't know what to do with his money and instead of helping out the less fortunate, spends 2 billion so that he can tell his other rich friends, guess what? I own a basketball team!
on May 29,2014 | 09:41PM
Bdpapa wrote:
I don't know but I'm pretty sure he has his share of charities he sponsors.
on May 30,2014 | 06:19AM
zoomzoom65 wrote:
Do you know the names of the organizations he's donated to? How much? Based on economics this is not a good investment so one can only conclude, another toy for a bored rich guy to play with and tell his friends about it. Sad.
on May 30,2014 | 06:37AM
stevegrantala wrote:
Like Sterling said, Jews will always seek each other out and help each other.
on May 30,2014 | 06:27AM
lowtone123 wrote:
Gee I bet that decision to sell took all of about 1.13 seconds.
on May 30,2014 | 08:55AM
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