In the end, the Sterlings made history in quite a different fashion than they made it at the beginning of their public-relations crisis. Late yesterday, Shelley Sterling confirmed that she had completed the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a cool two billion dollars. That is almost four times the previous record for an NBA team, which was set just this year by the Milwaukee Bucks in their $550 million sale.
Shelly Sterling has confirmed the sale through a press release. In it is the statement she could do that as the sole trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, confirming that she had Donald [sic — presumably “Serling’s agreement” is missing]
“I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner,” she said in a released statement. “We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”
Steve Ballmer also released a statement:
“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.”
According to NBS Sports, Ballmer had to agree not to move the Clippers to Seattle, where Ballmer lives. They have nine years on their lease in LA, plus the team and the league will get to negotiate a new TV deal next year. The NBA wants the team to stay in LA for that revenue. Not that they mind the sudden revaluation of all the league’s franchises, of course.
Still, $2 billion seems a little steep for an NBA franchise, even in LA. The two losing bids were almost as lucrative, with entertainment mogul David Geffen’s at $1.6 billion and a third at $1.2 billion. Bloomberg wonders whether Ballmer got a good deal or not:
Wait — you mean that the ex-Microsoft CEO may have overpaid for what is essentially vaporware in bright packaging, a product that has needed a lot of reboots over the years? Say it ain’t so. Twitter had a lot of fun with the Microsoft connection last night, but this was my favorite:
— Pradheep Shanker MD (@Neoavatara) May 29, 2014
The LA Clippys does have a nice ring to it. Speaking of being clipped, Donald and Shelley Sterling will come out of this with the last laugh. They bought the team in 1981 for $12 million, and spent most of the years in between raking in cash while being the laughingstock of the league. They’re going to end up with a $1.988 billion capital gain, which means that they’re really not going to care much what anyone thinks about them now. That’s quite a punishment that the league imposed, no?
Update: The capital gain was $1.988 billion, not $1.88 billion.