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$2 Billion Deal to Buy Clippers Reached; Glass Floor Cracks 103 Stories Above Chicago; U.S. Marine Remains in Mexican Prison

Aired May 30, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now, in a statement, Shelly Sterling says she's confident he'll take the Clippers to, quote, "new levels of success." The billionaire businessman used to be the man who was running Microsoft and he's about to make the biggest deal the NBA has ever seen.

So natural question of curiosity, who is he?

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans gives us the answer.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Also in that statement that Shelly Sterling released, there was a quote from Steve Ballmer where he says he looks forward to working more with the NBA and Silver along through the process, indicating they've already been talking to the NBA about this.

Shelly Sterling wanted a 2 in front of that number. She wanted a $2 billion. Steve Ballmer has the money and he wants the team.



ROMANS (voice-over): He always seemed ready for courtside. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was famous for energizing his employees.

BALLMER: I have four words for you. I love this company! Yes!

ROMANS: Ballmer started working at Microsoft in its early days. In 1980, he became the company's 24th employee and is over-sized personality became known fast through videos like this, promoting Windows 1.0 in 1985.

BALLMER: Watch as Windows integrates lotus 1-2-3 with Miami Vice.

ROMANS: And with Bill Gates in the "Night at the Roxbury" spoof to this '90s club hit.


ROMANS: In 1998, Ballmer rose to president, then CEO in 2000, taking the company through hits like Xbox and Kinect and flops like Window Vista. BALLMER: Our job, our job is to make sure that not only is P.C. not dead but we're constantly innovating it, reimagining it.

ROMANS: He stepped down as CEO of Microsoft three months ago but remains on the board of directors, and is a bigger shareholder than Bill Gates. He's worth more than $20 billion according to "Forbes" and sits at number 35 on the magazine's annual billionaire's list.

Ballmer grew up near Detroit where his father was a manager at Ford Motor Company. He went to Harvard and briefly attended Stanford School of Business. He's no stranger to the business of sports. His name has been tied for a possible deal for the Sacramento Kings but that fell through.

Now, he's poised to make the biggest NBA deal ever, going from high- tech billionaire to courtside baller.


ROMANS: So, he's got all the ingredients, right? Very loyal. Still drives a Ford because his dad worked at Ford. He's got fashion. You see how he is in the Microsoft videos.

You know, he's clearly the kind of guy you can see courtside cheering for his team.

BERMAN: He's got $2 billion there.


ROMANS: I don't know if this is a big group. He's tried to buy a team before with a group of investors. I don't know if this is just him or other investors.

BERMAN: Just him. Just him.

ROMANS: Just him, he's got the money.

CUOMO: But he can take on partners.

BERMAN: He can, but he's doing this bid as an individual, as opposed to the other teams bidding which are distinctively groups.

ROMANS: He's got the edge. Again, in the release from Shelly Sterling it was clear they have been talking already to the NBA. The vote is not here yet but they've been talking to the NBA about the sale and Bank of America revises the deal.

BOLDUAN: It's a great investment for the Sterlings when you know how much they paid 30 years ago. Is the basketball team still a good investment?

ROMANS: There's only 30 of them. If you want one you have to find the chance and take it when you can.

BOLDUAN: It's not about investment, it's the trophy of it? ROMANS: Mark Cuban told me the trophy days are over but that looks like what this is.

He's a businessman though. He will run it like a business. You only have a few chances to get it. He didn't get his last chance. He wants it now.

BOLDUAN: I can't wait to see that on the court. Whoo!

CUOMO: I know.


BERMAN: What was that, I missed that.

BOLDUAN: Whoo! Identical, for the record.

ROMANS: Exactly. He's a lot like Mark Cuban.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY: heart-pounding moments at the top of Willis Tower. A glass floor 103 stories up cracking while tourists are standing on it. You're going to hear about that. That is terrifying. That ordeal coming u.

CUOMO: And also, don't tell Taylor Townsend she can't win the French Open. The teenager is one of just two American women still standing in Paris. We're going to tell you about the incredible adversity she has already overcome just to make it on to the clay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way, I believe in winners and losers and especially the freedom to fail.

BERMAN: Who, him?


CUOMO: Annie Lenox "Walking on Broken Glass."

Welcome to NEW DAY.

Berman likes it.

Visitors to Chicago's Willis Tower getting an all clear after a truly heart-pounding moment Thursday. Protective coating on one of the glass floored observation decks cracked with people standing on it and, remember, that's 103 stories above the city when that happened.

CNN's George Howell caught up with him. Take a look and a listen.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One hundred three stories above the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I see is just glass that's breaking underneath me. HOWELL: Four cousins pose together for a picture on a glass observation deck over overlooking Chicago and the second they stood up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can feel the glass just shattering completely around my hand.

HOWELL: They look back to see the surface they had been sitting on shattered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking I'm going down with it.


HOWELL: They also got video of the glass, literally cracking in front of their eyes. They feared the ledge was about to fall to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you can see through it obviously you have the psychological effect that, you know, oh, my gosh, something broke. Nobody was ever in danger.

HOWELL: Engineer says there's a thick panel of glass that didn't break, designed to withstand 10,000 pounds or 5 tons of weight.

We watched as crews replaced the thin layer above it that caused such a scare.

(on camera): So, this is the new sheet of glass that will go on the sky deck. If you look here you can see exactly how thin that is. Crews tell me that this is meant to be scratched and scraped up. In fact, it's replaced every six to nine months depending on wear and tear. From outside, at a helicopter's vantage point, you can see how the observation ledge extends just beyond the Willis Tower with the new glass panel finally in place, we put it to the test. So, we are stepping on to that thin sheet of glass now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct. The quarter inch top piece of glass is designed to protect the 1 1/2-inch thick structural glass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, take the picture.

HOWELL (voice-over): The ledge on the sky deck now back in business. And even these guys admit after the scare of their lives --

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: For the record, it's an awesome view, awesome building.

HOWELL: It's the view from up top that made such an impression on them that they may just come back for more.

George Howell, CNN, Chicago.


BOLDUAN: That is -- I don't even know. CUOMO: Steve Ballmer had his four words, I love this company. Mine would be, negligent infliction of emotional distress. That would be the lawsuit --

BERMAN: It was the safe kind of shattered glass 1,300 feet in the air. Not the dangerous kind.

CUOMO: No one is ever any danger standing on broken glass.

BOLDUAN: We just put it there to scare you. That was a joke, actually.

CUOMO: I can't sleep. I have anxiety. Here it comes.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

Now to the story of an American tennis protege on the rise. Two American women remain in the French open. One of them is Taylor Townsend and she hits the court within the hour just 18 years old and ranked 205th. She defeated the 21st best player of the world to make it into the third round.

Taylor is tough and has already had to overcome her share of adversity. It's really unbelievable story.

Nischelle Turner is looking to do it.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tennis leader saying remember this name, Taylor Townsend and that's a great sports name. Very good sports name. That's what counts.

Right now though, her game is good, too. She is gotten to the French Open, the hard way. Definitely, she earned a wild card in the playoff, in a playoff type tournament. She won four matches in the same day.


TURNER (voice-over): Taylor Townsend is determined to make a point on and off the tennis courts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taylor Townsend, star is on the rise in Paris.

TURNER: At her very first grand slam tournament, 18-year-old Townsend defeated France's top rank player in a major upset, becoming the youngest American to advance to the third round of the French Open in over ten years.

Celebrating her victory, doing the ne-ne.

But it was a victory that almost didn't happen. Back in 2012 at 16, Taylor was the number one ranked junior. Then the U.S. Tennis Association came to her and said, they wouldn't pay her travel expenses, explaining they were concerned about her long-term health and development as a tennis player.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone saw that as a USDA telling Taylor that they wanted her to get into better shape and to lose weight.

TURNER: The USDA later told "The Wall Street Journal", it was a miscommunication.

TAYLOR TOWNSEND, TENNIS PLAYER: I was really upset. I cried. And I just didn't know what was happening, but I got myself together and I was like, I'm playing. That's all that I said. I was like, I need to find a way to get healthy. I need to go to the doctor as much as I can. I'm playing. That's all I said.

TURNER: And she didn't just play, she put a different spin on the game by paying her own way and winning sponsors like Prince and Nike and even more tournaments. All the while getting advice from others who didn't fit the stereotypical look of a tennis player.

TOWNSEND: Serena is not a small girl either. She has a beautiful figure.

Venus isn't small. She's taller, but, I mean, I'm short and I'm, you know, not skinny. So I mean, I think so but I'm just trying to do the best that I can for me. Everyone is different. And that's really what I've learned out of this whole thing.

TURNER: And today she's hoping to advance in the grand slam tournament and get another chance to do her now famous victory dance.

TOWNSENKD: Here we go.


TURNER: Now she's shy. She just didn't the ne-ne at the last win and now she's shy to do it on CNN.

Next up for Taylor, she faces number 15 in the world Carlos Suarez, I think in about 15 minutes. If she wins, she would be the youngest American to get to the fourth round at Roland Garros since Serena and Venus and she idol who she loves is Roger Federer, loves him.

BOLDUAN: Oh, really? I wonder if she has met him. She's probably not.

TURNER: Yes. You know, I don't know but she just says she loves everything she does, everything about his game.

BERMAN: Like wins almost every time for 10 years? That's great thing, guys.

BOLDUAN: Never loses.


CUOMO: She's also got very fine and precise strokes which is very Federer-esque, awesome.

TURNER: We talked about it before, her game fits the clay surface.

CUOMO: Very well.

TURNER: So you know, she's doing well here. You can see why.

CUOMO: Good luck to her. We'll all be checking in with that, make sure you figure out what happens.

TURNER: That's right.

CUOMO: Go Taylor, go Taylor, go Taylor.

All right, it's time to party like it's 1994. What does that mean? The New York Rangers are headed to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. That's why I'm saying it.

Joe Carter has more in this morning's bleacher report. They're going crazy around here, Joe. How's it looking for them?

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: There's nobody onset happier for the Rangers than John Berman. I know that, guys. He is ecstatic for the Rangers to make it to the Stanley Cup.

The Ranger's goalie Henrik Lundqvist was sensational last night after one of the worst games of his career in game five. He bounced back in game six with a performance that really put the Rangers in position and put them in the Stanley Cup final. He stopped all 18 shots on goal last night, including one of the best saves in the playoffs.

And you know, it only seems fitting that the game-winning goal came from Dominic Moore. I mean, this season is his first season back after taking a year off mourning the death of his wife who passed away from a rare form of liver cancer. That was a special moment for him last night.

And for this team, it's been a stunning turn around. Even their coach said after the game that he couldn't have imagined this moment at the beginning of the season back in October.

Later tonight the Miami Heat can advance to the NBA finals with a win against the Pacers. LeBron James is hoping for a better game than, well, the last game he had. But earlier this week he sat down with Rachel Nichols, and the two talked about how he's matured since his first playoff game in 2006.


LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: I'm just a smarter, more seasoned basketball player, more veteran. I mean, I've been in it so many times that, you know, I kind of know what to expect. And for me, at a younger age, I was never even keel. You know, I will win (ph) a playoff game when I was younger I was excited, out of my mind; then you would lose and I was the worst person in the world.


CARTER: And of course you can catch Rachel's show tonight at 10:30 Eastern on CNN. In addition to interviewing LeBron, she also sits down with Kurt Busch, guys, and the two of them talk about his historic attempt at the double. Of course, this past Sunday he raced in the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon and then the Coca-Cola 100 -- or excuse me, the Coca-Cola 600 later that same day.

BOLDUAN: Quite a feat. All right, Joe. Thank you very much.

Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, disturbing new details about the treatment of a U.S. Marine jailed for months in Mexico. We're talking to his mother who is pleading for him to be released.

CUOMO: Plus, big news: Shelly Sterling says the mega deal is done, that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the man right there, has agreed to pay $2 billion for the Clippers. But will Donald Sterling sign off on this sale or is this whole thing just a ploy to run up the price? We'll break it down.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

A U.S. Marine remains in a Mexican prison this morning two months after he was arrested for crossing the Mexican border he says by accident with three guns in his possession.

Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi is now speaking out detailing the brutal treatment he has endured in prison, telling the world how he was chained up and beaten by prison guards.

Here to discuss the latest in his case is his mother, Jill Tahmooressi.

Jill, it's good to have you with us.


CUOMO: Thank you very much for being here. First, when is the last time you got to check in on your son and what do you know about his condition?

J. TAHMOORESSI: He called me last night. He's in -- he's in much better conditions, though still imprisoned. He considers his current position to be safer than what he experienced at the state penitentiary called La Mesa.

CUOMO: OK, so that's a little bit of better news. For those just coming to this story, let's remind everyone how we reached here. Your son was driving, and he says he got lost basically. Tell us, what is his version of this?

J. TAHMOORESSI: Yes, he was parked in a parking lot, literally 50 feet away from an on-ramp. He turned left out of the parking lot within 50 feet, made his next left thinking he was headed north to San Diego, and instead there was a blind curve that swooped him south straight into a corralled barricaded Mexican customs lane. The only place to stop was at the Mexican customs agent checkpoint. CUOMO: Now Jill, obviously the concerning detail in all of this are the weapons. What do you understand about why he was carrying the weapons?

J. TAHMOORESSI: He's a Marine. He's a Marine reservist until 2016, just diagnosed with PTSD at the San Diego V.A.. That's why he had left Florida in January and headed at the invite of a purple heart veteran Marine who was seeking treatment at that V.A. in San Diego. So he had arrived March 12th. He was diagnosed positive for PTSD. And one of his symptoms was hyper vigilance to self-defense. That's why he carried a concealed weapons permit.

CUOMO: You don't belief that he was on some kind of mission. This was just about him keeping the weapons on his person?

J. TAHMOORESSI: Yes. He had all of his possessions in his truck. He had not yet found permanent housing in San Diego. All of his possessions stacked pile in the backseat, and when he entered Mexico by accident, the first thing he said to the first person that stopped him was, "I got here accidentally. Please let me turn around. I have three guns in my truck." So he disclosed immediately, and that's also evidence in a 911 tape that is recorded and online.

CUOMO: Can we hear some of the tape? We have it here, Jill, just so people can understand what his tone was and what he was saying. Let's take a listen.


ANDREW TAHMOORESSI, U.S. CITIZEN BEING HELD IN MEXICAN PRISON: I'm at the border of Mexico right now. My problem is, I crossed the border by accident and I have three guns in my truck. And they're trying to possess -- they're trying to take my guns from me.

911 OPERATOR: So you're in Mexico?


911 operator: There's nothing I can help you with then, sir. I do apologize. You are not on American soil anymore. I can't really help you.


CUOMO: To be clear, you believe there was no chance that your son intended to go to Mexico?

J. TAHMOORESSI: Absolutely no chance. He was headed back to San Diego to get a hotel like he often did. He had -- that day he had walked into Mexico. He had parked at that parking lot to purposefully walk into Tijuana at a popular place where Marines from Camp Pendleton go.

So he had no intention of then driving into Mexico. He had just walked out of Mexico, headed back to San Diego and intuitively, you turn left to head north to San Diego, and it swept south on a blind curve and corals you. There's no turn around point. It's a point of no return if you make that one wrong left turn, and that's literally what he did.

CUOMO: Also relevant is the detail you offer that he had all of this possessions with him, not just the guns. Our friend over at Fox News has, Greta Van Susteren, has -- had an opportunity to speak to your son on the phone. Here's some of what he had to say. Let's play it.


A. TAHMOORESSI: They stripped me of my clothes, and then they handcuffed me, my hands to a bed post and my feet to a bed post. So I was kind of stuck there standing overnight. I think it was for discipline, for punishment. I was hit multiple times. I was -- I was punched in the stomach a few times to the point where I couldn't breathe.


CUOMO: Now, Jill, I know you're operating as counsel basically for your son right now and arguing his case, but to hear your son's voice and to know what's been happening to him, in his opinion, how is that to hear as his mom?

J. TAHMOORESSI: Oh, my gosh, I'm mortified. That was at the hands of the guards that were to be protecting him. He's an inmate in a prison. You would expect the guards to protect their inmates. But instead, he had -- he had nearly been executed by the gang members that were in the cell, and then he was subjected to a severe beating by the guards.

I mean, I'm appalled. This is Mexico, our friendly neighbors to the south. And this is a man who said, "I accidentally entered here. Please let me go back to America." And instead, he was confiscated, held captive, nearly killed by the gang members and the -- and the guards in that prison. I'm furious.

CUOMO: Also as tough as he is and being a Marine, you know that he's not his best self right now because he's struggling with the PTS diagnosis, and this has got to be even more difficult for him. Yes?

J. TAHMOORESSI: Absolutely, much more difficult. And he has not heard from his commander in chief. He's a current Marine reservist. There's a White petition. I need 20,000 more signatures today. And that will force a response from President Obama because that is his platform. We the people petition, and he will acknowledge Andrew's fight for freedom, but I need 20,000 signatures by the end of today.

CUOMO: Happy to get that word out for you, Jill. Secretary of State John Kerry was on NEW DAY. we discussed this. He said he is in communication with authorities there to make sure that they have the proof they need to hold an American citizen. Have you heard anything from the State Department to validate their efforts?

J. TAHMOORESSI: No, I have not. I know that Mr. Whitaker from the local U.S. consulate service has at least -- I've reached out to him. And yesterday when I found out and he sent an affidavit of mistreatment for Andrew to fill out because this was new news to me, and -- and so, I immediately let Mr. Whitaker know that Andrew was abused at the hands of the guards.

CUOMO: All right. Jill, thank you very much. We'll follow up with the State Department. Please keep in touch with us. Let us know what's going on. And we appreciate you giving us the latest on NEW DAY. Good luck to you and your son.

J. TAHMOORESSI: Thank you.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thank you so much. It is official. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has won the bidding war for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. Ballmer struck a deal with Shelly Sterling to buy the Clippers for a record $2 billion. It's been submitted for league approval.

So far Donald Sterling, though, hasn't signed off on the deal. But does he need to? A lot of questions here, not a lot of answers, but a lot of development.

So let's get over to CNN's Rosa Flores with the latest. Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, good morning. You know, two things are very clear this morning. Shelly Sterling wants this to be over. She wants the sale to be done. She said this morning making this announcement just moments ago, and I'm going to quote here, "I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve who will be a terrific owner," she says. "We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premier NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success."

Now, here is the other side of this story. Donald Sterling, he is saying, I don't care about the money. I have plenty of money. He wants vindication. He doesn't want his name associated with the word "racism". So of course, here is what we know. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has made a binding agreement to buy the NBA -- the NBA team the L.A. Clippers. So that sounds like a done deal.