It’s all official… except for the going to court thing.
Shelly Sterling released a statement through her attorney that she, acting as the lone trustee of the Sterling Family Trust that owns the Los Angeles Clippers, has agreed to sell the NBA franchise to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. She can act as the lone trustee after having her husband Donald Sterling, who has been the recognized primary owner of the team by the NBA for more than three decades, declared mentally incapacitated.
She and Ballmer also released statements.
“I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner,” Shelly Sterling said in her statement. “We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”
“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 his statement. “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’s $2 billion bid (which was reportedly originally $1.8 billion but apparently was upped in negotiations) was higher than what was offered by multiple other suitors. The powerhouse group led by David Geffen (which included Larry Ellison and Oprah Winfrey) reportedly offered $1.6 billion.
The NBA has yet to comment on any of this.
Reports had surfaced on Thursday that if a completed sale agreement — at a price the league liked with a new owner they were interested in — was sent to them in time they would cancel the NBA Board of Governors meeting scheduled for June 3. At that meeting the other 29 NBA owners would conduct a hearing then vote on whether to strip Sterling of his ownership of the franchise in response to the backlash that followed his prejudiced comments on a recording released to TMZ, plus later in a CNN interview.
But does the league see this as a legal move by Shelly Sterling? If it has questions, would the league be better off rejecting this sale as not valid, going through with the June 3 hearing, voting to revoke the Sterling’s franchise rights, then selling the team again themselves (likely at the same price or higher)? That train of action would lead to another round of lawsuits.
Whatever happens this is headed to the courts.
Donald Sterling also has not as of yet released a statement on the proposed sale. In his 32-page response to the league’s official charges he was defiant, with his attorney allegedly saying they planned to fight the forced sale until “the bloody end.”
The smart money is on this entire process, starting with Donald being declared mentally incapacitated, it headed to the courts.
Meanwhile NBA fans — not to mention Clippers players — hope the sale goes through so this entire saga will just end.