LOS ANGELES — The Clippers moved on from months of ugliness Tuesday, with Steve Ballmer officially becoming the team’s new owner in a record $2 billion sale that ousted Donald Sterling as the NBA’s longest-tenured owner.
Sterling bought the team in 1981 for $12 million and presided over decades of losing seasons before engaging in a fierce legal battle with his estranged wife to hold on to his most prized asset.
The team said the sale closed after a Los Angeles court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise to the former Microsoft CEO.
“I hate losing the team,” she said at a news conference.
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She later added, “It feels good. It would have felt good to own the team, too.”
The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the sale.
“Really excited — in a pretty hardcore way — to continue the path to making the Clippers a better and better basketball team, and a better and better citizen of the Los Angeles community,” Ballmer told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
The bizarre drama began in April when a recording surfaced of Donald Sterling scolding his girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games. The audio spurred the NBA to ban Sterling for life, fine him $2.5 million and force him to sell the team.
Adam Streisand, Ballmer’s attorney, said Tuesday that Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas signed the order authorizing the sale even if Donald Sterling’s attorneys filed an appeal. Pierce O’Donnell, Shelly Sterling’s attorney, said at the news conference that Donald Sterling had filed a petition opposing the sale.
“They’re alleging the judge made errors,” O’Donnell said. “We believe it’s another desperate act.”
Ballmer said he wants to put the controversy in the past and focus the team on being “a great citizen in the community for a diverse set of folks.”
Ballmer agreed to give Shelly Sterling the title of “owner emeritus.” She will receive two floor seats, 10 other seats and parking at Staples Center for games.
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