Donald Sterling puts brakes on Ballmer's bid for LA Clippers

Sterling refuses to sign off on the deal to sell the LA Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. He also plans to sue the NBA for $1 billion.

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Steve Ballmer James Martin/CNET

Steve Ballmer's hopes of buying the LA Clippers basketball franchise have hit a rough patch, thanks to controversial owner Donald Sterling.

Sterling, whose racist remarks to his girlfriend were made public in April and led the National Basketball Association to ban him from the league for life and to seek his ouster as Clippers owner, has decided he won't sign off on a $2 billion deal that would allow former Microsoft CEO to buy the team.

According to the Associated Press, which was first to report the news, Sterling released a statement on Monday, entitled "The Team is not for Sale." The one-page statement said that he has never wanted to sell the LA Clippers and will not allow the team to be taken from him.

The battle over the Clippers has been a see-saw of events for Ballmer. The tech icon negotiated the team acquisition with Sterling's estranged wife, who took the $2 billion price and assured she could get her husband to sign off on the deal. Sterling last week said he'd take the deal, but his tune has changed. That shift happened after Sterling discovered the league won't lift his lifetime ban.

In addition, Sterling said he will sue the NBA for $1 billion, alleging that the league violated his rights by forcing him out. In his statement, Sterling said he intends to stand up for his "rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process."

It's not clear how the lawsuit will impact Ballmer's ability to buy the team. Sterling's wife negotiated with Ballmer as sole trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers. Whether the lawsuit that Sterling is filing must be wrapped up before the deal can be sealed is unknown for now.

CNET has contacted the NBA for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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