Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer will pay about $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers basketball franchise, according to reports.
Both ESPN as well as the Los Angeles Times are reporting that Ballmer was the victor in a bidding war that included entertainment mogul David Geffen and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison as well as other L.A. investors. The price that Ballmer paid would be more than four times the amount paid for any North American basketball team—$550 million for the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this month was the second highest, according to the Times—and just below the $2.1 billion sale price for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team last year.
The Clippers sale occurred after owner Donald Sterling was recorded making racist remarks, including encouraging his girlfriend not to attend Clippers games with African-Americans. The NBA barred Sterling from the NBA for life and fined him $2.5 million, and was reportedly moving to terminate the ownership of Sterling and his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, by June 3, ESPN reported. Shelly Sterling had hurriedly placed the Clippers up for sale before the NBA could act.
Ballmer is not the only tech titan to own a basketball franchise. Mark Cuban, of course, owns the Dallas Mavericks, and Microsoft’s third co-founder, Paul Allen, has owned the Portland Trail Blazers for 25 years. Ballmer reportedly failed in his bid with hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen to buy the Sacramento Kings for $525 million (later raised to $625 million) and move the team to Seattle, Forbes reported.
Ballmer even reportedly owned a private Twitter account to comment on local basketball games, according to The Wall Street Journal.