Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has reached an agreement to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from owner Donald Sterling for $2 billion, NBC News has confirmed.
According to a source close to the negotiations, the Sterling family trust reached the deal Thursday night to sell the basketball team to the tech billionaire. The deal was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, and later confirmed by other news organizations including The New York Times.
The deal comes after the NBA charged Sterling with damaging the league’s reputation with his racist remarks against African-Americans. The league set up a hearing planned for June 3, when three-fourths of the remaining team owners will vote on whether to force a sale of the Clippers.
Sterling became the subject of widespread scorn after audio recordings released in April captured him in a racist rant to his female friend, V. Stiviano. He assailed her for posting pictures of NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson on Instagram, and said she should not bring him or other African-Americans to Clippers games.
Johnson, who Sterling had claimed did not support the black community and who he attacked for being HIV-positive, spoke out on Twitter after news of the sale broke, calling Steve Ballmer owning the Clippers “a big win for the City of LA.”
Donald Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12 million. If he is successful in selling the team to Ballmer for $2 billion – the sale must still be approved – it would be the highest price ever paid for an NBA franchise, according to the Times.