LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Ballmer officially became the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
The team said the sale closed after a California court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise to the former Microsoft CEO. Her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, had unsuccessfully fought the sale of the team he owned since 1981 in court.
The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the $2 billion sale.
“I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers,” Ballmer said in a statement. “Clipper fans are so amazing. They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times.”
Ballmer added he will be “hardcore” in giving the team, coach Doc Rivers, the staff and players the support they need.
Rivers called it “an amazing new day in Clippers history,” and said he’s inspired by Ballmer’s passion for the game.
The Sterlings have been in probate court, with Donald Sterling contesting his wife’s proposed deal to sell.
Adam Streisand, Ballmer’s attorney, said Tuesday that Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas signed the order authorizing the sale even if Donald Sterling’s attorneys filed an appeal.
“We were ready,” Streisand said. “Within minutes, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered.”
He said even if Donald Sterling seeks an emergency order directing the judge to vacate his order, the attorney is confident an appellate court would agree that Levanas made the correct decision.
Ballmer, Rivers and Clippers players will attend a new fan festival announced for next Monday at Staples Center.