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Basketball

Ex-Microsoft boss Ballmer signs deal to buy NBA's LA Clippers for $2 billion

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for $2 billion. The team came up for sale after owner Donald Sterling was banned for making racist remarks.

Former CEO of Microsoft, Steven Ballmer, won the bidding war to buy the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers franchise for a reported $2 billion (1.47 billion euros).

Shelly Sterling, owner Donald Sterling's wife, said in a statement issued late Thursday that she'd signed a binding contract for a sale of the team by The Sterling Family Trust to Ballmer. Donald Sterling, however, must also approve the final agreement as a 50 percent owner. The deal is not yet finalized and must be presented to the NBA.

Ballmer "will be a terrific owner," she said in the statement, "We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premier NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success."

In a statement confirming the sale Ballmer said he will do "everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win - and win big - in Los Angeles." Ballmer, a long-time basketball fan, retired as Microsoft CEO in February but remains on the board and still owns about 4 percent of the software giant.

The sale of the team was sparked after Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist remarks that were made public. In the leaked audio, Sterling's voice can be heard criticizing a friend for associating with "black people." As a result, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed under the NBA constitution.

Sterling purchased the Clippers in 1981 for little more than $12 million. He is the longest-tenured owner of any of the 30 NBA teams.

hc/jr (Reuters, AP)

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