Steve Ballmer beats off Oprah Winfrey for LA Clippers ownership

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has reportedly reached a deal to buy American basketball team the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion (£1.2 billion).

The deal comes after current owner Donald Sterling received a lifetime ban from the sport when a conversation of him making racist comments became public.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) acted swiftly by announcing the ban, along with a multi-million dollar fine, and agreeing to start the process of selling the team.

Ballmer's bid would comfortably become the highest price ever paid for an NBA team, beating the $550 million purchase of the Milwaukee Bucks last month, but still requires the approval of three-quarters of the other 29 NBA team owners, as well as Sterling himself.

He also seems to have beaten off some high-profile competition from local investment groups, including one led by music mogul David Geffen which boasted fellow billionaire Oprah Winfrey as one of its members.

The deal is believed to have been accepted by Sterling's estranged wife Shelly after she had him declared mentally incapacitated.

Read more: Watch Steve Ballmer blub his way through Microsoft farewell

Despite Sterling's current protests against the deal, he stands to make a pretty penny, having paid a comparatively paltry $12.5 million for the team in 1981.

Ballmer, who is reported to be worth $20 billion, still owns shares in Microsoft after retiring from his role in February. Before his departure, he delivered a farewell speech to Microsoft employees, and sobbed his way through the Dirty Dancing theme song. Check out the clip via the link above.