Ex-Xbox head Ballmer to buy LA Clippers

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has reportedly emerged as the top bidder in a high-stakes auction for ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. His bid – a measly US$2 billion – sets a record price for an NBA team.

Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer

Ballmer was CEO of Microsoft from January 2000 until earlier this year. His 14-year stint at the top put him at the helm of the company throughout its move to the living room via Xbox, and he was a popular fixture at E3 press conferences and other events.

It’s worth noting that this new record price is no small jump above the previous one, either: The highest previous NBA franchise sale price was just US$550 million, paid earlier this month for the Milwaukee Bucks.

The sale is kind of rushed. Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling is trying to move the team before her family is forced out of ownership, following her husband Donald’s recent racist comments. Donald Sterling – who has controlled the team for more than 30 years – has already been given a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Ballmer’s acquisition deal is not final. It still needs the approval of 29 other NBA owners, but it seems likely to pass easily, on one proviso: The Clippers must stay in LA. Ballmer was part of a group who last year attempted to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle, where Ballmer lives. This time around, he claims he has “no intention” of moving the Clippers.

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