Los Angeles Clippers: Is Steve Ballmer The Man With The Golden Check?

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Apr 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Morris Griffin, of Los Angeles (center), at a demonstration in front of Staples Center asking for the sale of the Clippers. The NBA banned Clipper owner Donald Sterling for life after it was confirmed that he made racist statements recorded by a female friend.The Clippers and Warrior play game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

So it seems the cards are now on the table. With the rumored deadline for bids to buy the Los Angeles Clippers having passed on Wednesday, speculation of prospective bidders was rife. Since the Donald Sterling controversy broke, names like Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison were all featured in speculation about potential buyers or buying groups.

With offers now having been tabled, it seems as if one man has emerged as the clear winner though. According to James Rainey of the LA Times, it’s former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that has submitted a successful bid to buy the team. To quote Rainey, “Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer won a frenetic bidding war for ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, with his $2-billion offer setting a record price for an NBA team.”

Although Ballmer may have tabled the highest bid, and everything seems to be going smoothly, it remains to be seen if the murky nature of the current decision-making process will slow thngs down. The team’s co-owner Shelly Sterling is the one initiating these sale talks, yet it’s still unclear whether she is acting with full consent of her husband. With indications coming from Donald Sterling that he is prepared to fight his lifetime ban in the courts, the golden handshake could still take some time.

Although reports from ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne last night indicated that Shelly Sterling has the power to act on behalf of the team, and only the league’s approval is now necessary to finalize the sale, there’s widespread expectation that Sterling will still try to fight the ruling.

Either way, let’s assume that Ballmer will eventually take control of the organization. Would that be a good thing? Adding to that, what is it that Clippers fans should in fact be looking for in their new owner?

Sterling needs to be ousted, and quickly for his heinous thoughts and actions. What seems to be getting widely overlooked though is, long after Sterling is, thankfully, a distant memory, will his replacement have actually resulted in positive changes that show on the court?

That’s possibly the greatest intangible right now, but let’s consider four things that should matter to Clippers fans when it comes to their new owner.

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