The Los Angeles Clippers are officially rid of Donald Sterling. The NBA announced the completion of the sale of the team to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer Tuesday, closing the final chapter of a long process to remove Sterling from power after he was caught uttering racist remarks on tape in an argument with companion V Stiviano.
The league announced that Ballmer, who paid a reported $2 billion fee to acquire the club, is the Clippers' "Governor."
Ceremonial role with the Clippers is troubling
The ex-wife of deposed Clippers owner Donald Sterling managed to maintain a healthy ceremonial role with the team under Steve Ballmer despite her own history of racist behavior. This shouldn't be happening.
The move puts an end to a process many expected would drag out through years of litigation after NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that Sterling was banned "for life" in late April. With the help of Sterling's wife Shelly, the league found a new owner in Ballmer willing to pay an huge price for the franchise.
Donald Sterling initially agreed to the sale, then changed his mind, suggesting he was set up. However, Shelly Sterling was still able to sell the team without Donald Sterling's consent by arguing that he was "mentally incapacitated" due to dementia, allowing her to make decisions for the family's trust unilaterally. Donald Sterling challenged the claim in probate court, but was defeated on all counts.
The judge even invoked the little-used 1310(b) provision in California's probate code, essentially preventing Donald Sterling from appealing the decision in an attempt to actually keep his team. This paved the way for the league to announce that the sale to Ballmer was finalized. Donald Sterling can still sue for financial damages, but the league is indemnified against any lawsuit, so Donald Sterling would essentially be suing himself.