LOS ANGELES Steve Ballmer, the former head of Microsoft, has completed his $2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, ending a saga that began when former team owner Donald Sterling was heard making racist remarks to his girlfriend on a tape recording.
The deal closed after a California appeals court confirmed the right of Sterling's estranged wife Shelly to sell the team on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, the National Basketball Association said on Tuesday. The NBA Board of Governors had approved the sale, and has added Ballmer as a Clippers member of board of governors.
The $2 billion price tag for the franchise was the highest paid for an NBA team. The team, which began in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, has never won a NBA championship and last year finished with a 57-25 record, losing in the Western Conference semifinals to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Shelly Sterling struck the deal with Ballmer in May, a month after the NBA banned her 80-year old husband, following revelations of his privately taped remarks imploring the girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to publicly associate with black people.
Sterling's remarks, which were made during the Clippers' playoff run, sparked public outrage and prompted sponsors to cut ties with the team.
The team's interim CEO, Richard Parsons, testified at a probate trial that head coach Doc Rivers was ready to quit if Sterling remained the owner the team and that the team's players would do the same.
The 58 year old Ballmer is worth an estimated $21.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, and is the 31st wealthiest person in the United States.
(Reporting by Ronald Grover Steve Ginsberg, and Mary Milliken; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Jeffrey Benkoe)