Updates from Saturday, June 7
Los Angeles Times' James Rainey has the latest on Shelly Sterling:
Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling decided to sell the team last week rather than fight to maintain half ownership in part because of a novel arrangement that will make her “owner emeritus” and fund a major foundation to serve the poor, minorities and battered spouses, according to people familiar with the $2-billion sale of the team.
The special provision in a sales agreement signed last week with former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer will allow Sterling, 79, to maintain a significant presence with the franchise, even though she is giving up her 50% stake. The other half of the Clippers is owned by Donald T. Sterling through a family trust. Shelly Sterling sold the entire team to Ballmer after taking control of the trust, citing her husband’s alleged mental failings.
Updates from Friday, June 6
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times passed along another twist in the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer:
Donald Sterling still hasn't signed off on the official sale of the Clippers because he hopes the NBA will rescind a $2.5-million fine and lifetime ban from all league activities, according to people familiar with the situation.
Sterling recently saw a draft of a statement from the league which he thought absolved him of the penalties, but a person familiar with the NBA's position said the statement, which was not released to the public, offered no such relief.
"In terms of saying something in a draft press release that indicated they would be dismissing the lifetime ban and the fine, that is not true at all," said the person, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. "That doesn't mean that [Sterling] wouldn't have read something like that into it.
"But if they interpreted it that way that is wrong and there is no thought of lifting the lifetime ban or the fine being rescinded."
Updates from Wednesday, June 4
ESPN news services provided the latest comments from Donald Sterling following the announcement of an agreement to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer:
As the NBA prepares to finalize the record-breaking $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, banned owner Donald Sterling insists he's ready to "move on."
"I feel fabulous, I feel very good," Sterling told NBC4 on Tuesday night when asked how he felt about his wife, Shelly, selling the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "Everything is just the way it should be, really. It may have worked out differently, but it's good. It's all good.
"I'm OK, I'm OK. Is the NBA OK? I'm not sure about that. Is [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver OK? I'm sure he's OK."
Later in the day, Sterling's lawyer, Max Blecher, made waves with some major news, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA:
Donald Sterling's lawyer Max Blecher says he will not pursue further legal action, and has agreed to sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 4, 2014
Blecher tells ESPN that Donald Sterling "agrees to sell and to drop lawsuit. NBA agrees to drop charges and to not sue him for anything."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 4, 2014
David Aldridge of NBA.com provides a bit of context as to why Sterling and Blecher made today's decision:
Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, says the decision to drop the $1B suit was "part of the broader deal" w/NBA dropping its suit vs. him.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 4, 2014
Updates from Friday, May 30
CNN's Rachel Nichols reports the NBA has approved the Clippers sale:
It's over. (We think) NBA accepts sale of Clippers along w/Shelly's promise to indemnify against lawsuits from Donald pic.twitter.com/cVQDSZa2aV— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 30, 2014
Shelly Sterling released a statement Friday morning confirming the sale was happening, according to John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times:
Shelly Sterling asserted that she is acting as the sole trustee, with no mention of Donald Sterling, who bought the team three decades ago.
Donald Sterling’s lawyers have asserted that he needs a final sign-off before the team can be sold. However, according to two media reports, Shelly Sterling has said her husband was not capable of making the decision to sell the team. The Times has not verified that report.
"I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner," Shelly Sterling said in a statement. "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."
Steve Ballmer also released a statement, per Cherwa:
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. L.A. 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.
Arash Markazi of ESPN passes along Ballmer's hopes for the team:
The league released a statement regarding the sale, courtesy of Rachel Nichols of CNN:
NBA statement on potential Clippers sale: pic.twitter.com/D40otJl4cb— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 30, 2014
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne confirms the specifics of Sterling's mental incapacitation:
Can confirm TMZ report that Sterling was diagnosed w/ Alzheimer's.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Earlier this month, he agreed to be examined by two neurologists. They diagnosed w/ Alzheimer's, said he's probably had for 3-5 years— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
This was known by Shelly Sterling and her advisers for some time, but it was not their first choice of action to make her the sole trustee— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Earlier, Shelburne added a response from Sterling's lawyer about the assertions that Sterling is "mentally incapacitated":
Donald Sterling's lawyer Max Blecher says in an e-mail, " Mr. Sterling is far from mentally incompetent."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Blecher said he was aware of the evaluations of Mr. Sterling this month, but called the results "grossly exaggerated"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
CNN's Rachel Nichols added more from Donald Sterling's lawyer:
More detail here. What Donald decides to do next is crucial to how/whether NBA proceeds with June 3 vote. pic.twitter.com/F4HXSwnIma— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 30, 2014
Jeanie Buss welcomed Steve Ballmer on behalf of the Buss family:
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today provides a link to the lawsuit filed by Sterling:
That lawsuit filed by Donald Sterling can be viewed here: http://t.co/SOj2mvO9Jj— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) May 31, 2014
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has reportedly reached a deal to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.
The Los Angeles Times' James Rainey first had the news:
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles later reported that an agreement had been signed. She also highlighted the next step in the process:
There is now a signed, binding agreement between Ballmer and the Sterling family trust to sell the Clippers for $2billion, ESPN has learned— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Ballmer's agreement will go straight to the NBA for final approval, source tells ESPN.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
In other words, the signed binding agreement btwn the Sterling family trust & Ballmer for $2b does not need another sign-off from Donald.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Shelburne added more detail on the sale:
Espn has learned that experts had declared Donald Sterling mentally incapacitated, leaving Shelly as sole trustee & power to sell the team— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
The Sterling Family Trust had rules & guidelines about mental incapacitation. Very recently, Donald was found by experts to be incapacitated— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Once that happened, Shelly became sole trustee and had power to do deal w/ Ballmer, which is now being sent directly to the NBA for approval— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
There could still be a response by Donald Sterling & his lawyers, but his first action would be to contest Shelly's move, not NBA now.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Ballmer, a Seattle native, was most recently a part of Chris Hansen's group that attempted to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle. The NBA's Board of Governors thwarted that, however, voting 22-8 to reject that group's bid and keep the Kings in Sacramento.
According to Rainey, Ballmer is worth an estimated $20 billion.
That doesn't make the sale price of $2 billion—yes, with a "B"—any less astounding. Rainey provided some historical context regarding the price:
The sale price is almost four times the highest previous NBA franchise sale price -- the $550 million paid earlier this month for the Milwaukee Bucks. It is second only to the Dodgers 2012 sale for $2.1 billion as the highest price for any sports team in North America.
Grantland's Jared Dubin included another interesting number, while ESPN's Darren Rovell revealed some of the losing bids:
A $2 billion sale price for the Clippers would be a 248% mark-up on the $575 million Forbes valuation from January. Absurd.— Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) May 29, 2014
Ballmer's $2B bid beats the Geffen/Ellison group by $400M, the Ressler/Karsh group by $800M.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) May 29, 2014
According to Rainey, Ballmer will not attempt to move the Clippers to Seattle.
Fans in the Pacific Northwest will surely be disappointed by that, but his purchase of the franchise ensures having another owner on their side of the ongoing battle to return basketball to the Emerald City.