Originally posted at 6:04 p.m. May 29, 2014. Edited with new details.
A furious round of bidding for the Los Angeles Clippers appeared to come to an end today with news that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had offered a record $2 billion for the NBA franchise.
The Los Angeles Times, citing an anonymous source familiar with the negotiations, reported on its website that Ballmer's offer had topped a $1.6 billion bid from a group that included entertainment mogul David Geffen and a $1.2 billion bid from investors Tony Ressler and Steve Karsh.
Shortly after The Times broke the story, some other media outlets reported that negotiations between potential owners and team co-owner Shelly Sterling were still continuing, and no winning bidder had been chosen. But by about 6 p.m., media outlets including NBC News, CBS2 and ESPN reported that a sales agreement had been reached with Ballmer. ESPN reported that the proposed deal had been forwarded to the NBA for approval.
Bidding for the team reached a fever pitch Wednesday, with Sterling collecting offers on the team that her husband, Donald, bought more than three decades ago for $12.5 million. Ballmer's reported $2 billion offer for the Clippers far surpasses the previous record for an NBA team -- $550 million paid this month for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Any proposed Clippers sale would still face a number of hurdles. Donald Sterling, who was banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million over racially insensitive comments he made in a recorded conversation, has indicated in papers filed with the NBA that he plans to fight a league effort to force him out as owner. The NBA's Board of Governors is scheduled to meet Tuesday to vote on whether to expel Sterling as an owner. A two-thirds vote of the league's owners is required to oust Sterling.
The NBA would also have to approve any sale of the Clippers.
Ballmer, 58, was part of a group that last year tried to purchase the Sacramento Kings and move the team to Seattle. The NBA, however, balked at moving the franchise.
According to The Times, Ballmer said in a recent interview that he had no intention of trying to move the Clippers out of Los Angeles.
Donald Sterling, 80, has been under fire since recorded conversations of him disparaging companion V. Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people, including Magic Johnson, were made public. Sterling also told her on the recording not to bring black people to Clippers games.
In his response filed with the league earlier this week, Sterling contended that he was recorded illegally while making emotional remarks during a "lovers' quarrel."
Although no official announcement about the proposed sale has been made, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he and all Los Angeles basketball fans look forward to "putting the past behind us and looking forward to a new and winning era for the Clippers."
"I congratulate Steve Ballmer and look forward to working with him and the Clippers to make a positive impact on our city," Garcetti said.
--City News Service