LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Shelly Sterling says she has reached an agreement with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.
Ballmer and the Sterling family trust signed a binding agreement Thursday and will present the deal to the NBA for final approval.
“I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner,” Shelly Sterling said. “We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”
Sources tell CBS News that Shelly Sterling’s legal team is seeking to give her sole control of the sale of the team on grounds that Donald Sterling is mentally incapacitated. The Sterling family trust, which owns the Clippers, has provisions that allow the trust to strip power from a member if he or she is deemed incapacitated, clearing the way for Shelly to solely sell the team.
Donald Sterling’s attorney, Maxwell Blecher, told CBS News, however, that he has no court order declaring Mr. Sterling as mentally incompetent.
The awarded purchase price, which breaks an NBA record, comes in second behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, which was purchased by Guggenheim Partners for $2.1 billion, as the most expensive sports franchise in North America.
In January 2014, Forbes valued the Clippers at $575 million, ranking them 15th in the NBA.
To compare franchise costs, the Milwaukee Bucks were sold last month for $550 million.
Ballmer, who has an estimated net worth of $20 billion, reportedly beat out several big-name groups in the highly competitive bidding war.
“I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win – and win big – in Los Angeles. LA 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. I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process,” Ballmer said in a statement Thursday.
“I’m excited to see a new change in ownership,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Steve Ballmer has been a friend to Los Angeles.”
The mayor also said he hopes the possible new owner does not pass the cost on to the fans.
“I want to make sure we don’t get into a place like we are with the Dodgers right now,” said Garcetti. “Such an elevated price means that you have to pay so much extra just to see our hometown team.”
The NBA Friday released the following statement on the proposed sale.
“Commissioner Silver has consistently said the preferred outcome to the Clippers proceeding would be a voluntary sale of the team. Shelly Sterling advised the NBA last night that an agreement had been reached with Steve Ballmer, and the NBA Advisory/Finance Committee met via conference call this morning to discuss these developments. We await the submission of necessary documentation from Mrs. Sterling. In the meantime, the June 3 special meeting of the NBA Board of Governors remains as scheduled,” Mike Bass, Executive Vice President of NBA Communications said.
The sale must be approved by 75 percent of the NBA team owners.