Shelly Sterling sat down for an extended interview with the Associated Press where she talked about the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Among the items revealed in the interview was that David Geffen made an official bid of $US1.65 billion and an unnamed Egyptian princess entered the bidding just prior Sterling meeting with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for the first time.
The most interesting part of the interview was Sterling explaining how Ballmer may have outbid himself in offering an unprecedented $US2 billion for a team Forbes.com had valued at $US575 million.
According to the AP, on Saturday, May 24, Ballmer called Sterling at 7 a.m. and asked to meet immediately. Sterling says she had no idea who Ballmer was but described him as “really enthusiastic.”
After getting off the phone, she called a friend to find out who Ballmer was.
Ballmer and Sterling met for the first time on Sunday, May 25, four days prior to the announcement of the sale.
Sterling described Ballmer as “like a little child” adding that “he was so excited, so happy.”
According to Sterling, Ballmer asked what others had offered. He then offered $US1.9 billion to buy the team.
Prior to taking offers, Sterling says she told the litigator she hired for the sale that she wanted $US1.5-2.0 billion for the team. At this point she already had an offer of $US1.9 billion and she hadn’t done a thing. She probably felt like the last $US100 million will be a piece of cake.
Here’s how Sterling described the negotiation that followed to AP:
“‘I told him: “You won’t have to build an arena or a practice field.” So he was getting a bargain. And I told him, “We have great players, a great coach and you’ll never have the chance to buy a team in Los Angeles again.”‘
“After her speech, she recalled ‘He said, “O.K. I’ll give you two (billion).” He really really wanted the team.'”
Making his desire so obvious — anybody who has ever seen Ballmer speak doesn’t doubt that Ballmer would be the worst poker player ever — may have cost him at least $US100 million.
While Ballmer and Sterling negotiated the details of the sale, including lifetime tickets for her along with the titles “Owner Emeritus” and “Clippers Number 1 Fan,” and the promise not to move the team to Seattle, details of the bidding process were starting to leak.
Bill Simmons shocked the NBA world when he revealed that the bidding for the team was at least $US1.8 billion and would likely reach $US2.0 billion.
Two days later, the L.A. Times and ESPN announced that an agreement had been reached and Ballmer was buying the team for $US2 billion.
Ballmer recently explained why he bid that much for the team. He says he was fired up. Sterling knew this and used it against him.
In the end Ballmer got his team, but in retrospect he may have paid more than he needed to.
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