LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Clippers are officially under new ownership.
After months of legal wrangling, a record-setting $2 billion deal for former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to purchase the Clippers closed Tuesday following the entry of an order by a California court confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the team, league officials announced.
The NBA Board of Governors previously approved the sale. "Ballmer is now the Clippers Governor," according to a league statement.+
The $2 billion deal is not only the largest price paid for any NBA team in league history, it's also the most paid for any professional sports franchise in North America.
In response to the announcement, the Los Angeles Clippers posted a celebratory message on Twitter.
In a statement, Ballmer said: "I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. 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."
Clippers President and head coach Doc Rivers, who earlier this year threatened to leave the organization if Donald Sterling remained the team's owner, cheered the announcement.
"This is an amazing new day in Clippers history," Rivers said. "I couldn't be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization. I am already inspired by Steve's passion for the game, his love of competition and desire to win the right way and I know our players and fans are going to be inspired as well."
Attorneys for Donald Sterling had filed a petition with a state appeals court on Friday asking for an emergency order blocking the sale.
The petition included a statement claiming Sterling will have lost a "unique and irretrievable asset" once the sale goes through.
Sterling's attorneys further argued that under his ownership, which spanned three decades, the Clippers recently became one of the most successful franchises in the country.
The court declined to take any action, since a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas allowing Sterling's wife to move ahead with the sale had not been finalized.
It was not immediately clear if Donald Sterling's attorneys would go back to the appeals court in hopes of negating the deal.
Shelly Sterling signed the agreement to sell the team to Ballmer on May 29, but was forced to go to Los Angeles County Probate Court to secure a court order confirming her authority as sole trustee to sell the team.
Following the sale, Shelly Sterling will retain a connection to the Clippers under the title of "owner emeritus."
"I am confident that Steve will bring the city a championship team in the very near future," said Ms. Sterling. "I cannot wait for the new season to begin."
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