Microsoft's Steve Ballmer Will Buy the Clippers from Donald Sterling, Meaning The Saga's Over
It looks like the reign of racist NBA owner Donald Sterling is truly over. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is buying the Clippers for $2 billion, The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. Ballmer won a bidding war for the team and is buying it for the highest price ever recorded for an NBA team.
That's all well and good for Ballmer, who's reportedly sitting on a nest egg of roughly $20 billion after his 14-year reign atop Microsoft.
But don't get too excited yet. The LA Times reports that the sale was led by co-owner Shelly Sterling, the wife of Donald Sterling, who was recorded by a former girlfriend expressing racist views, which ultimately led to his ouster by the NBA. And Donald Sterling will have to sign off on the sale. As we and many others have noted, the disgusting comments barely scratched the surface of Sterling's long history of harmful racial discrimination, particularly against blacks and Hispanics.
But anyway, Donald Sterling may not go along with Shelly Sterling's plans. (The two are, rather obviously, estranged at the moment.) On Wednesday he said through his lawyer, Max Blecher, that he didn't intend to make the sale process an easy one.
I don't know what agreement she has with him, but I'm saying to you today, he disavows anything she's doing to sell the team. He says, "It's my team, and I'll sell it when and if I get around to it."
Sterling's also denied all the charges the NBA's leveled against him and is in the process of disputing his ban from the league, which hasn't yet been made official. In an interview with ESPN, Blecher said it was a violation of his client's rights because the recordings were made without Sterling's consent.
I believe what they've done is illegal and it will not hold up in court. I believe what they're doing is a blatant invasion of his constitutional rights because they're using a tape recording that he did not consent to, and under California law, that recording cannot be used for any purpose, for any proceeding.
So if the basis of their case is illegal evidence, they don't have much of a case. ... The whole thing is a pile of garbage.
Regardless of Sterling's feelings, the Internet was mostly wound up on Thursday over whether or not the team's likely new owner, Steve Ballmer, had plans to move the team to Seattle, which could create opposition to the sale among other team owners. Earlier this month Ballmer told The Wall Street Journal that he won't move the team because they're worth a lot more in Los Angeles' market. Seattle doesn't have an NBA team.
If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles. I don’t work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value destructive.