LOS ANGELES (CN) - As former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer celebrated the completion of his $2 billion Los Angeles Clippers purchase on Tuesday, Donald Sterling appealed for a stay.
The $2 billion sale, which should cap off a legal saga that culminated in probate judge's ruling in favor of Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, last month, represents the largest sum ever paid for a North American professional sports franchise.
"I am thrilled that the Clippers now have such a wonderful new owner," Shelly Sterling said in a statement. "I am happy for the team, the fans, the sponsors and the city of Los Angeles."
Steve Ballmer meanwhile praised the "amazing" Clippers fans. "They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times," the 58-year-old billionaire said in a statement.
The agreement to sell the Clippers to Ballmer was reached on May 29 but faced a challenge in June from the team's erstwhile owner. Though Sterling had owned Clippers since 1981, making him the longest-tenured owner in the league, the NBA banned him in April when racist comments that Sterling had made in private were leaked to the media.
Shelly Sterling asked the probate court to confirm her as The Sterling Family Trust's sole trustee and to approve the sale to Ballmer under California's Probate Code § 1310 (b). The trust is the sole shareholder of LAC Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Clippers.
Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas issued a tentative July 28 oral ruling that gave Shelly Sterling the authority to go head with the sale, pending a final order.
Ballmer's attorney told USA Today that Levanas issued a signed order Tuesday morning.
"I went to Judge Levanas' courtroom this morning hoping that he would have signed the order, which he had," Ballmer attorney Adam Streisand told USA Today. "The clerk handed the order to me. I emailed from the courtroom to close the deal. The NBA owners voted last week."
In flurry of activity last week, Levanas on Thursday issued a final statement of decision green-lighting the sale to Ballmer, which Shelly Sterling brokered.
Levanas then vacated his own order, however, and the state's Second Appellate District on Friday refused to let Sterling appeal for a stay of the $2 billion sale.
Shelly Sterling will retain the titled of "owner emeritus," Shelly Sterling publicist G + F Bunting + Co said in a statement.
"I am confident that Steve will bring the city a championship team in the very near future," Shelly Sterling said. "I cannot wait for the new season to begin."
The appellate court docket
showed late Tuesday, however, that Daniel Sterling's legal team had moved to unwind the sale by filing another challenge with a state appeals court. One of her attorneys, Pierce O'Donnell, called Daniel's latest petition is "patently frivolous."
"The $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer closed at 9 a.m. today. The money has been received by the Sterling Family Trust. Donald's request for relief is moot. This afternoon, we filed an opposition in the court of appeal urging denial of the petitions," O'Donnell said in statement.