After four months of legal challenges and threats from Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers finally have changed hands.
The sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion was legally closed Tuesday. Sterling is officially out as the owner after his racially insensitive rewards created a public outcry and forced the NBA to take action to ultimately remove him from a team he had purchased in 1981.
A California court issued an order confirmed that Sterling's wife, Shelly, had the legal right to sell the franchise on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust.
“I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers,” Ballmer said in a statement from the team. “Clipper fans are so amazing. They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times. I will be hard core in giving the team, our great coach, staff and players the support they need to do their best work on the court.”
Ballmer paid the largest sum in NBA history for a franchise. He mostly stayed out of the way as Sterling, his wife, NBA owners and commissioner Adam Silver wrangled over the sale of the team.
“The NBA Board of Governors previously approved the sale and Ballmer is now the Clippers Governor,” the league said in a news release.
ESPN reported that Donald Sterling likely will appeal the sale.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the NBA filed a counterclaim in federal court against Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust for “devastating and incalculable harm” to the league as a response to Sterling's antitrust lawsuit. The Times indicated that the NBA is attempting to recover damages from Sterling's inflammatory remarks.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun