The news that the California court system formally approved the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer from the Sterling Family Trust broke last week. Coupled with the Board of Governors voting unanimously to approve the sale, and Ballmer’s determination to complete it, he is now in name, if not already in fact, the owner of the Clippers.
The record sale of $2 billion is several times (reportedly over 12) what the Clippers are actually worth, but Ballmer states that the price tag was worth it, stating to ESPN that (a) it is his money, and he wouldn’t have spent it in a way he thought unwise, and (b) the earnings potential justified the sale. Of course, if all he had said was that he was a huge basketball fan who wanted to bring a championship to the Los Angeles Clippers, most people would have accepted that too.
I think that it is an awesome time for the Clippers organization, the NBA, and the world of sports. Doc Rivers and his players are already gushing about how happy they are, with Shelly Sterling and others all giving affirmative statements discussing why this is the best move for all parties considered.
However, the most important part of the story is that Donald Sterling and his legal troubles are now separated from the Clippers, with all legal proceedings now falling into the background, and not with the team’s ownership in the fray.
Now, I am admittedly not a Clippers fan. I prefer the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings, but I felt an outrage that only severe racial insensitivity can cause when I first heard Donald Sterling’s now infamous rants. At the time, I thought that an adequate punishment would have been an indefinite suspension from active ownership, such as what Major League Baseball had done to George Steinbrenner in the 1990s. However, when Adam Silver decided to make an example of him, I was all in favor of it. Indeed, it kept the peace within the NBA, preventing a prospective players’ strike, and maintaining a firm relationship with the NBA’s fan base, many of whom are in the minorities ripped apart in Sterling’s comments.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that Donald Sterling will vanish into the night like we all wish he would. As long as he has the ability to fight in court, he will. However, with him formally out of the Association, it is a good time for all fans of the NBA.