Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling agreed Wednesday to sign off on selling the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for what would be a record $2 billion, according to his attorney.
Sterling “has made an agreement with the NBA to resolve all their differences” and as co-owner has given his consent to a deal that was negotiated by his wife, Shelly Sterling, to sell the team, said attorney Maxwell Blecher.
A nearly six-week battle over the allegations and the future of the Clippers came to an apparent end last week, when Ballmer bid nearly four times the previous high price for an NBA franchise. The tech billionaire hoped to close the deal as early as next month. A vote by league owners is expected to take place in mid-July.
Representatives for Shelly Sterling declined to comment. The NBA declined to comment.
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Donald Sterling sued the NBA in federal court alleging the NBA violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an “illegal” recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend. It also says the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale.
Blecher said the suit will be dismissed.
If the NBA owners approve the sale, it will be a record-high sum for a team that cost Donald Sterling about $12 million in 1981.
Ballmer beat out bids by Guggenheim Partners and a group including former NBA All-Star Grant Hill. Ballmer made more than an hour-long personal visit to Shelly Sterling’s Malibu home last week and laid out his plan.
Ballmer’s days of sports fandom go back to childhood, when he was an avid pick-up basketball player.
Ballmer, 58, is the “perfect owner” for the Clippers, says author Fredric Alan Maxwell, who write a 2002 book “Bad Boy Ballmer.” Ballmer is a huge basketball fan, but is organized and analytical enough to manage a large organization.
“He knows how to hire talent. He won’t get in the way of that,” said Maxwell.
“When they play the Lakers, (Jack) Nicholson will be sitting down and Ballmer will be jumping all over the place,” he said. “That’s the maniacal side of him.”
Ballmer and investor Chris Hansen headed a group that agreed to a deal to buy the Sacramento Kings in January 2013 with the intention of moving the team to Seattle, where the Sonics played until 2008. But the NBA elected to keep the team in California. The Kings were then sold to Vivek Ranadive.