Steve Ballmer becomes owner of LA Clippers

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Steve Ballmer becomes owner of LA Clippers
New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, right, shakes hands with head coach Doc Rivers after speaking at the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, center, fires up the crowd as he speaks at the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2014, file photo, new Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, right, and head coach Doc Rivers share a laughter during a news conference held after the Clippers Fan Festival in Los Angeles. Rivers is staying with the Los Angeles Clippers for another five years. In Ballmer's first big move since taking over as the team's new owner last week, he has locked in Rivers through the 2019 season. Ballmer said Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, it was one of his top priorities to ensure that Rivers remains as the long-term leader of the team. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer listens to questions from the media during a news conference held after the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. Ballmer paid a record $2 billion for the team in a sale that was confirmed by a judge last week. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer applauds after speaking at the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer pauses for a moment after speaking at the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in LA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Steve Ballmer attends an NBA playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 29, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11: Steve Ballmer (L) and NBA Commissioner Adam SIlver attends an NBA playoff game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on May 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
FILE - In this July 23, 2011 file photo, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer cheers during a charity basketball game in Seattle. For decades, Steve Ballmer has been Microsoft's biggest cheerleader with his big, booming voice and energetic high-fives, which are famous around Seattle. Now that he’s agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, the former CEO of the technology giant is expected to bring that boosterism to the hardwood down south. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Shelly Sterling is congratulated outside the courthouse in Los Angeles on July 28, 2014 after a ruling was made in the case between her and her husband Donald over the sale of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. A California judge gave the go-ahead to the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, ruling that embattled owner Donald Sterling could not block the move. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Shelly Sterling steps to the podium to respond to questions from the media outside the courthouse in Los Angeles on July 28, 2014 after a ruling was made in the case between her and her husband Donald over the sale of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. A California judge gave the go-ahead to the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, ruling that embattled owner Donald Sterling could not block the move. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Shelly Sterling (C) and her legal team Pierce O'Donnell (2nd R) Bob Bardaran (R) Bert Fields (L) and Los Angeles Clippers new owner Steve Ballme's lawyer Adam Streisand (2nd L) participate in a news conference after finalizing the the $2 billion sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on August 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Ballmer's USD 2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers was finalized today, August 12. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Shelly Sterling speaks during a news conference as Adam Streisand (L), lawyer for Los Angeles Clippers new owner Steve Ballmer, looks on on August 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Ballmer's USD 2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers was finalized today, August 12. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Shelly Sterling (C) reacts as her lawyer Pierce O'Donnell (R) and Adam Streisand, the lawyer for Los Angeles Clippers new owner Steve Ballmer, look on during a news conference on August 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Ballmer's USD 2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers was finalized today, August 12. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 10: Max Blecher, attorney for Donald Sterling, arrives to Los Angeles Superior Court for the non-jury trial over whether Shelly Sterling has the authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers over the objections of her husband, Donald Sterling, on July 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Shelly Sterling claims that she has to right to sell the basketball team to former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion because her 80-year-old husband Donald Sterling, who has owned the Clipper for 33 years, is longer mentally competent to manage his his team and business empire. The NBA has fined Donald Sterling $2.5 million and banned him from the league for life for racist comments made in private. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Steve Ballmer attends an NBA playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 29, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 8: Max Blecher, attorney for Donald Sterling, arrives to Los Angeles Superior Court for the non-jury trial over whether Shelly Sterling has the authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers over the objections of her husband, Donald Sterling, on July 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Shelly Sterling claims that she has to right to sell the basketball team to former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion because her 80-year-old husband Donald Sterling, who has owned the Clipper for 33 years, is no longer mentally competent to manage his team and business empire. The NBA has fined Donald Sterling $2.5 million and banned him from the league for life for racist comments made in private. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
FILE - This file photo taken Nov. 19, 2013, shows then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during the company's annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash. An individual with knowledge of negotiations to sell the Los Angeles Clippers said Shelly Sterling has reached an agreement to sell the team to Ballmer for $2 billion. The individual, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press on Thursday, May 29, 2014, that Ballmer and the Sterling Family Trust now have a binding agreement. The deal now must be presented to the NBA. Ballmer beat out bids by Guggenheim Partners and a group including former NBA All-Star Grant Hill. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2014, photo, then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, left, shakes hands with former NBA players Bill Russell, right, and "Downtown" Freddie Brown as Omar Lee looks on during an NCAA college basketball game between Washington and Oregon State in Seattle. Ballmer is officially the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. The team says the sale closed Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, after a California court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2011, file photo, then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at the Web. 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. With the potentially record-breaking $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers hanging in the balance, a trial beginning Monday, July 7, 2014, will focus on whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife had the authority under terms of a family trust to unilaterally negotiate the deal. Shelly Sterling struck a deal to sell the Clippers to Ballmer after Donald Sterling's racist remarks to a girlfriend were publicized and the NBA moved to oust him as team owner. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
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By BETH HARRIS

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Steve Ballmer finally has an NBA outlet for his rah-rah displays of emotion as the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The former Microsoft CEO's record $2 billion purchase of the team was confirmed by a Los Angeles judge on Tuesday, clearing the way for the avid pickup basketball player to take over the team from Donald Sterling, who unsuccessfully fought his estranged wife over the sale.

The sale achieves Ballmer's longtime goal of owning a team. He made a bid last year before owners chose to keep the Kings in Sacramento, rather than allow them to be sold to a group that included Ballmer and moved to Seattle.

Now the man with the booming voice and energetic high-fives, who was Microsoft's biggest booster, has got his own team to share with his wife and three sons.

"We're a family that likes basketball," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Ballmer, who lives in the Seattle area, said he hopes to attend a lot of Clippers games next season. He said interim CEO Dick Parsons has agreed to stay on for the time being.

"That gives me a chance to figure this all out," he said.

The sale ousted Donald Sterling as the NBA's longest-tenured owner. He bought the team in 1981 for $12 million and presided over decades of losing seasons before battling his estranged wife in probate court to hold on to his most prized asset.

Adam Streisand, Ballmer's attorney, said Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas signed the order authorizing the sale even if Donald Sterling's attorneys filed an appeal, which they did late Tuesday.

"Donald Sterling's petitions are patently frivolous," said Pierce O'Donnell, Shelly's attorney. "Donald's request for relief is moot."

O'Donnell said his side filed an opposition urging denial of the petitions. He said the Sterling Family Trust received money from the sale earlier Tuesday.

Donald Sterling's attorneys weren't available to comment.

The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the deal.

"Really excited - in a pretty hardcore way - to continue the path to making the Clippers a better and better basketball team, and a better and better citizen of the Los Angeles community," Ballmer told the AP.

The sale was welcome news to All-Star power forward Blake Griffin.

"I look forward to having Mr. Ballmer as the owner and continuing our pursuit of a championship," he said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he had urged Donald Sterling to sell the team after a recording surfaced in April of the owner scolding his girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games, and he welcomed Ballmer.

"We have somebody who's going to keep the team here, who has the resources to continue to build the Clippers," the mayor said.

Shelly Sterling lamented losing the team, but Ballmer gifted her with the title of "owner emeritus." She will receive two floor seats, 10 other seats and parking at Staples Center for games.

"I am confident that Steve will bring the city a championship team in the very near future," she said.

Ballmer takes over what could be a powerhouse team next season, led by coach Doc Rivers. By agreeing to the record purchase price, he has already proven he is willing to spend in contrast to the famously frugal Sterling, long regarded as the worst owner in the NBA.

"The topic of conversation with Doc earlier was to focus in on what does it take and how can I help support him in achieving our mutual mission and in a pretty intense way continue to improve, be tenacious," Ballmer said. "If we do all that, good things will come our way."

Ballmer said he wants to put the Sterling controversy in the past and focus the team on being "a great citizen in the community for a diverse set of folks," including the NBA's predominantly black players.

"We're going to do our best on that," he said. "I know that is high on Doc's list, it's high on my list to do that. We also have to be a phenomenal basketball team, play really well as a team and have great success on court. We're going to work on all those things."

After the Sterling audio became public, the NBA banned him for life and fined him $2.5 million.

Sterling was apologetic, but his mea culpa backfired when he criticized Lakers great Magic Johnson, who had been photographed with Sterling's girlfriend, as a bad role model for kids because he had HIV. The 80-year-old real estate mogul was roundly condemned around the league.

With the NBA threatening to seize the team and auction it, Sterling initially gave his wife of 58 years permission to negotiate a sale but then refused to sign the Ballmer deal. He said he would sue the league instead and then revoked the trust, which his lawyers said effectively killed the deal.

Shelly Sterling removed Donald as a trustee after doctors found he had symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Streisand 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.

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