The Donald Sterling saga is officially over, as the NBA completed its sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Tuesday. The news had a second positive angle for LA-based fans, as Ballmer confirmed he will not relocate the Clippers to Seattle. Now that Ballmer owns LA Clippers, some fans were still concerned that he would move the team north.
Speculation ran wild when Ballmer was first announced as the prospective buyer for the LA Clippers. During the previous NBA season, Ballmer had been involved in a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and relocate them to Seattle. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson foiled the plot, leaving Ballmer and his investment group searching for another team.
On Tuesday, Ballmer said he has put those relocation dreams behind him.
“There’s a hundred reasons [not to move them],” Ballmer told ESPN. “The Clippers are more valuable in Los Angeles,” Ballmer told ESPN. “The NBA has made it clear they want fan bases to be able to keep their teams. I know that firsthand, because we did take a whirl at moving Sacramento and that didn’t work. I’m all in on the Los Angeles Clippers.”
The sale of the Clippers was completed Tuesday after LA County Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas issued a written ruling in favor of former owner Shelly Sterling selling the team on July 28. The judge’s written ruling was necessary to complete the transaction. His earlier verbal opinion was simply an indicator of what the final written ruling would say.
Donald Sterling, the estranged husband of Shelly Sterling, purchased the LA Clippers in 1981 for $12 million. An audio recording of him making racist remarks surfaced during the NBA Playoffs, compelling NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to ban him for life from the NBA. The ban expanded to include forcing him to sell the team.
While LA fans are pleased to hear Ballmer will keep the team in LA, the team’s coaches and players are thankful to move forward with a new owner.
“I couldn’t be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization,” said Head Coach Doc Rivers. “I am already inspired by Steve’s passion for the game, his love of competition and desire to win the right way and I know our players and fans are going to be inspired as well.”
Indeed, both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin spoke up on Tuesday following the completed sale.
“I am very excited about Mr. Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers,” said Paul. “I’ve had a chance to meet him and his excitement for the game of basketball and our team is going to be great for the league, the city of Los Angeles and Clipper fans everywhere.”
“Today is a great day for the Clipper organization and fans everywhere,” Griffin chimed in.