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Fallout From Ballmer’s Deal To Buy Clippers

Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid for the Clippers is set to smash the record sales price for an NBA team, set just two weeks ago when the NBA approved the $550MM sale of the Bucks. The deal faces hurdles, including the NBA’s official OK, but the former Microsoft CEO seems ready to take the helm.

“I love basketball,” Ballmer said in a statement, as notes. “And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles. L.A. is one of the world’s great cities — a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community.”

Here’s more in the wake of the deal between Ballmer and Shelly Sterling:

  • Bobby Samini, one of many attorneys for Donald Sterling, insisted Thursday afternoon to Andrea Chang of the Los Angeles Times that there will be no sale without a signature from the banned Clippers owner. That’s despite a ruling from mental health experts that Donald Sterling is incapacitated, which transfers power over the Clippers to Shelly Sterling according to the rules of the Sterling family trust.
  • All involved with the sale are bracing for a legal challenge from Donald Sterling, but they’re confident the deal will come to fruition, tweets Ramona Shelburne of
  • The arrangement would give Ballmer 100% ownership of the team, but he agreed to let Shelly Sterling continue to associate with the franchise in some capacity other than ownership, reports.
  • The Sterlings will have to pay $662MM in capital gains taxes on the sale, accountant Robert Raiola tells for the same piece.
  • The deal drew a thumbs-up from some Clippers players, including Blake Griffin, who spoke to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s a great move for us,” Griffin said. “I think it’s putting the final piece to the puzzle together. It kind of allows everybody to go back to focusing on the real goal, and that’s putting 100% of everything into winning a championship for Los Angeles from our side.”
  • Other players around the league, including Ty Lawson and Andrew Bogut, took to Twitter to marvel at the $2 billion price tag and express misgivings about the NBA’s assertion during 2011 collective bargaining agreement talks that teams were losing money (hat tip to Grantland’s Zach Lowe).
  • The NBA has wanted Ballmer as an owner since the SuperSonics left Seattle, so the league probably sees this deal as a win, observes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). It’s probably a loss for Seattle, tweets Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, as Ballmer was the primary financial backer of last year’s bid for the Kings. Ballmer has said he wouldn’t move the Clippers out of Los Angeles.
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