The record $2 billion sale of basketball's Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer can proceed over the objections of co-owner Donald Sterling, a judge has ruled.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the deal, brokered by Sterling's estranged wife Shelly Sterling, was permissible and could be consummated even if Sterling chose to appeal.

Either way we'd win. I am just doing what I had to do.

Shelley Sterling, Donald Sterling's wife

Shelly Sterling, 79, cried after the ruling in the emotionally charged nine-day trial and told reporters outside the courtroom "Either way we'd win. I am just doing what I had to do."

She said she believed Donald Sterling's ban from the NBA would be lifted.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling after derogatory remarks he made about black people in private to a woman friend were recorded and then published.

Sterling removed as trustee

Sterling had vowed to block the sale he initially blessed because he said his wife improperly removed him as a trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers.

The NBA, looking to close a chapter that brought shame to the basketball league and outraged fans, said it was 'pleased' with the court's decision.

"We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.

The judge said his tentative ruling would take formal effect when he issues it in writing in coming weeks. 

Donald Sterling, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, has also sued the NBA, the league commissioner and his wife, contending the team was illegally taken from him.

Source: Reuters