"Mr. Sterling's lawsuit is predictable, but entirely baseless," NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan said. "Among other infirmities, there was no 'forced sale' of his team by the NBA — which means his antitrust and conversion claims are completely invalid. Since it was his wife Shelly Sterling, and not the NBA, that has entered into an agreement to sell the Clippers, Mr. Sterling is complaining about a set of facts that doesn't even exist."
The ownership hearing had been scheduled for next Tuesday after the NBA charged Sterling with damaging the league with his racist comments. A three-quarters vote of owners to support the charge would have terminated the Sterlings' ownership, and the league would have sold the team.
Ballmer said in a statement that he is honored to have his name submitted to the NBA for approval. The price has blown past previous offers for an NBA team.
"Obviously, I saw $2 billion. That gave me a reaction," said Miami Heat star LeBron James, who had been vocal in calling for both Sterlings to be out of the league. "That was a reaction for sure. But as far as everything else, I haven't quite dived into it. ... Any time a 'B' goes after a number, man, you already know that you're talking about some real money."
This is not Ballmer's first foray into potential NBA ownership. Ballmer and investor Chris Hansen headed a group that agreed to a deal to buy the Kings from the Maloof family in January 2013 with the intention of moving the team to Seattle, where the SuperSonics played until 2008.
But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson lobbied the NBA for time to put together a bid to keep the team in California, and though the Ballmer-Hansen group later increased its offer, owners voted to deny the bid for relocation and the Kings were sold to Vivek Ranadive.
Johnson, who has been advising the NBA Players Association in the wake of Sterling's comments, praised Ballmer in a series of tweets Friday night.
"When the Clips play next season, players will be proud to wear the logo on their chest & fans will be proud to cheer for their hometown team," Johnson wrote.
AP Basketball Writers Brian Mahoney and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams
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