LOS ANGELES--The NBA announced that Steve Ballmer's $2-billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers had closed on Tuesday, making the former Microsoft CEO the undisputed owner of the team.
The transaction ends a fractious period of nearly four months in which owner Donald Sterling fought to retain control of the team he had presided over for three decades. A judge affirmed the right of Shelly Sterling, Donald's estranged wife, to wrest control of the team from her husband and sell it to Ballmer.
Ballmer's lawyer, Adam Streisand, said the agreement to sell the Clippers quickly finalized after Judge Michael Levanas signed the final order Tuesday morning permitting the sale.
"Within minutes, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered," Streisand said.
"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. I will be hard core in giving the team, our great coach, staff and players the support they need to do their best work on the court. And we will do whatever necessary to provide our fans and their families with the best game-night experience in the NBA."
The league's board of governors previously approved the sale of the team to Ballmer, who will meet with fans during a festival at Staples Center at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
"I am thrilled that the Clippers now have such a wonderful new owner," Shelly Sterling said in a news release.
"I am confident that Steve will bring the city a championship team in the very near future. I cannot wait for the new season to begin."
As part of the sale agreement, Shelly Sterling receives the titles "Clippers Number One Fan" and "owner emeritus" and a variety of perks that include game tickets.
Reaction from Clippers players was immediate, with a few commenting on Clippers.com.
"I am very excited about Mr. Ballmer's purchase of the Clippers. 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," guard Chris Paul said.
"Today is a great day for the Clipper organization and fans everywhere. I look forward to having Mr. Ballmer as an owner and continuing our pursuit of a championship," forward Blake Griffin said.
"Today was a very important step not only for our team but the NBA. I know Mr. Ballmer has the passion for succeeding and I am excited about him being the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers," guard JJ Redick said.
"I cannot wait to play this season knowing Mr. Ballmer is our owner. Today was a great day for the Clippers," center DeAndre Jordan said.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million in late April after a tape recording emerged in which Sterling made derogatory comments about blacks. Sterling, 80, sued the league, but his efforts to keep the Clippers failed after Shelly Sterling removed her husband from the family trust because of mental incapacitation.
The NBA's Board of Governors voted via e-mail last week to approve the sale, and it was a unanimous 29-0 vote. The Clippers did not vote.
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