Citizens of Clips Nation, our long Clips national nightmare is over.
The NBA announced today that the Los Angeles Clippers have officially been sold to Steve Ballmer for two billion dollars. The final sequence involved paperwork, as a California court filed the order that Shelly Sterling had the authority to sell the team, validating the transaction that has been in place since May 30. The NBA had already approved Ballmer as an owner and he is now officially the Governor of the team.
I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Clipper fans are so amazing. They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times. I will be hard core in giving the team, our great coach, staff and players the support they need to do their best work on the court. And we will do whatever necessary to provide our fans and their families with the best game-night experience in the NBA.
This process was long and painful -- but then again, was it? It was certainly bizarre, but we would expect nothing less from Donald Sterling. Make no mistake, by the way -- Sterling will continue to pursue legal action to try to overturn the sale until the day he dies, but it won't matter. He never had much legal recourse throughout this process, but it goes without saying that he took his best shot in probate court, where he lost in a landslide. Any other legal path he pursues to block the sale is by definition less likely to succeed than his probate case. He's got plenty of money to waste in courts (even more of it now) -- but it won't change who owns the Clippers.
I feel like I've already been through the euphoria of being rid of Sterling, back in late May when Ballmer's $2B was first accepted as the wining bid in the auction Shelly held for the team. I knew then that DTS would take the decision to court, I knew then that it wouldn't matter in the long run. I didn't know exactly how "long" the long run would be, and in the end, another 75 days or so is no big deal. The sale got done during the off-season -- and it didn't seem to impact the team's ability to conduct business, as free agents Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar (not to mention the re-signing of Glen Davis) are among the best role player signings of any contender this summer.
It's been a remarkable five years for the Clippers. When they won the lottery in 2009 and with it the right to draft Blake Griffin, Griffin's season-ending injury seemed to be the most painful yet predictable "Clippers" thing that could have happened next. But since Griffin played his first NBA game in 2010 it's been one franchise-changing moment after another for the team. In December 2011 they traded for Chris Paul. They set franchise best marks in regular season winning percentage and made the playoffs three seasons in a row. They hired Doc Rivers as head coach in 2013. They re-signed both Griffin and Paul to long-term contracts (perhaps the most significant developments of all).
But throughout that incredible four year run of ever-improving prospects and results, there's always been a pall hanging over the franchise in the form of the owner. Donald Sterling has climbed to the top of the list of most hated people in the country -- but that 's a very recent development. Somehow he had remained relatively unknown to the masses until V. Stiviano released the infamous recordings in April. He was always this hated by Clippers fans, because he was always that guy we heard on the tapes -- mean, clueless, tone deaf, erratic, self-important. He stood in sharp contrast to the rest of his team. Griffin and Paul are arguably the most charming superstars in the league off the court, incredible players who also happened to be great in front of a microphone or a camera. Not that it really matters, but the Clippers have steadily added "All-Interview" types to their roster -- Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Glen Davis, Jared Dudley, even Matt Barnes -- these are all thoughtful, articulate, intelligent guys. How ironic that the Clippers owner was the embarrassment when he had access to a microphone.
Unfortunately we're going to continue to see his face and hear his words as he fights his futile legal battle -- but he will no longer have anything to do with the Clippers. The recent additions of Griffin and Paul and Rivers have all been huge factors on the court for the Clippers -- but it's this addition by subtraction, ridding the team of the specter of Donald Sterling, that may make the biggest difference.