13 Aug 2014

Ballmer new owner of LA Clippers

12:56 pm on 13 August 2014

The former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has officially become the new owner of NBA basketball's Los Angeles Clippers.

Former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling

Former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The NBA says the transaction, worth an estimated $NZ 2.4 billion, closed after a California court order went into effect confirming that Shelly Sterling had the authority to sell the team.

In a statement, Ballmer says he's "humbled and honoured to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The team went on the block after the NBA slapped a life ban on its owner, Donald Sterling, who bought the club in 1981 for $NZ 15 million.

The action was in response to a video aired on celebrity website TMZ that showed Sterling criticising his girlfriend for having her picture taken with black people.

In the storm that followed, the 80-year-old billionaire initially agreed to the sale of the team, but then abruptly withdrew his support.

His wife Shelly, however, moved to sell the team as a trustee of the family trust that owned the team after Sterling had been declared mentally incapacitated.

Ballmer thanked Clippers fans for remaining "fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times".

Ballmer's purchase would make the Clippers, who have never won a title, the second most expensive franchise in American professional sports.