In what could be one of the most stunning prices ever paid for a professional sports team, ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has won a bidding war to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers for nearly $2 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times and ESPN.
The deal would still need to be approved by Donald Sterling and eventually be approved by the other 29 NBA owners. The L.A. Times reported that as long as Ballmer agrees to keep the team in Los Angeles and not move the Clippers to Seattle; he should receive approval for the purchase.
The reported sale price of $2 billion is $1.45 billion more than the highest price ever paid for an NBA franchise. The previous record for an NBA franchise was $550 million, paid earlier this year for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The price takes on even greater magnitude when it’s measured against the highest price paid for any professional team in North America, which was $2.1 billion paid for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Looking at the most recent Forbes rankings of NBA franchises by value, the most valuable teams were the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. Combined, those two teams were assigned a value by Forbes of $2.75 billion.
In other words, Ballmer has reportedly paid nearly the entire estimated value of the two most valuable franchises in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ballmer left Microsoft in February 2014 and according to the Times has an estimated net worth of $20 billion. He’s previously tried to buy an NBA franchise. Last year, he joined a group that tried to purchase the Sacramento Kings to move the team to Seattle.
The Kings sale never materialized and the group, led then by Chris Hansen, moved on without a franchise.
According to the Times, Ballmer’s bid was chosen over others that included backing from Hollywood mogul David Geffen and the Guggenheim Grop, which owns the L.A. Dodgers. The sale also comes just days ahead of a scheduled meeting of the NBA’s Board of Governors, which was set to remove the Sterling’s as owners of the Clippers.
If Ballmer is allowed to become the new owner of the Clippers, he would be the wealthiest owner in the NBA, eclipsing Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, Magic owner Rich DeVos, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and Miami Heat owner Micky Arison.
If the sale is completed, Donald Sterling will have built the team value from $12.5 million when he bought the team in 1981 to the sale price of $2 billion.