Steve Ballmer’s purchase of the LA Clippers for $2 billion is the biggest NBA deal ever and a big deal for the former Microsoft Chief Executive who is used to big deals.
The Clippers sale was negotiated by Shelly Sterling who co-owns the team with her husband Donald, who in now embroiled in litigation with the NBA over the racist remarks he is alleged to have made and which he is fighting to clear himself of the “racist” slur. The deal with Ballmer will need to be confirmed by the NBA and has to receive Donald Sterling’s consent too.
CNN report that Ballmer is worth $20 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Another source said Ballmer’s offer earlier Thursday was $1.8 billion and Shelly Sterling was hoping to get a price that “started with a two.”
A group that included media moguls David Geffen and Oprah Winfrey also made a bid of $1.6 billion, the source told CNN.
If the deal goes through, it would be the largest sum paid for an NBA franchise. Last month, the Milwaukee Bucks, a bad team in a small television market, sold for $550 million.
But the Clippers are in the second-largest market in the league, albeit one they share with the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most popular teams in professional sports.
The Clippers, however, have been more successful in recent seasons, including this one that ended in the second round of the NBA playoffs. They also have stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. And their TV contract reportedly will expire in 2016 and could mean billions to the owner.
The purchase would have to be approved by 75% of the NBA’s 30 owners. Last year they denied a sale to a group that included Ballmer that would have resulted in the Kings moving to Seattle, after the league’s relocation committee recommended keeping the team in Sacramento.
Ballmer, who attended several Clippers playoff games, told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month he would not move the team from Los Angeles.
Donald Sterling has been the controlling owner of the Clippers since buying the team in 1981 for $12 million.