NBA own­ers to vote on Clip­pers sale, Ster­ling sues

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don­ald Ster­ling won’t get to fight for his Los Angeles Clip­pers in front of NBA own­ers next week. His only chance now is in court.

He could just pocket about $1 bil­lion, his share of the pro­ceeds from the record-break­ing sale of a team that the league was pre­pared to take away from him. But don’t count on it. His lawyers say he’ll fight the league and his fam­ily to keep the team he bought for just $12 mil­lion in 1981.

His es­tranged wife ne­go­ti­ated the deal to sell the Clip­pers for $2 bil­lion to for­mer Mi­crosoft CEO Steve Ballmer, say­ing she owns half the team and con­trols the fam­ily trust. A per­son close to the fam­ily told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Shelly Ster­ling took over the fam­ily’s as­sets be­cause Don­ald Ster­ling, 80, was stripped of his abil­ity to act as a co-trustee af­ter two neu­rol­o­gists de­ter­mined he was suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia.

The in­di­vid­ual, who is fa­mil­iar with the trust and the med­i­cal eval­u­a­tions but wasn’t au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly, said Ster­ling was deemed “men­tally in­ca­pac­i­tated” ac­cord­ing to the trust’s con­di­tions be­cause he showed “an in­abil­ity to con­duct busi­ness af­fairs in a rea­son­able and nor­mal man­ner.”

“There is spe­cific lan­guage and there are pro­to­cols about what to do, and steps in or­der to get a sole trustee po­si­tion and that’s what took place in the last cou­ple of days,” the in­di­vid­ual said.

On Fri­day, the NBA can­celed next week’s hear­ing to oust Ster­ling, in­stead mov­ing for­ward to vote on whether to ap­prove the sale to Ballmer. Also Fri­day, Ster­ling’s at­tor­neys filed a federal law­suit against the league and Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver, ask­ing for dam­ages in ex­cess of $1 bil­lion.

The law­suit says Don­ald Ster­ling is still a co-trustee and doesn’t want to sell the team.

“The as­ser­tion that Don­ald Ster­ling lacks men­tal ca­pac­ity is ab­surd,” at­tor­ney Bobby Samini said. He would not give more de­tails on Don­ald Ster­ling’s con­di­tion.

The suit al­leges that the NBA vi­o­lated Ster­ling’s con­sti­tu­tional rights by re­ly­ing on in­for­ma­tion from an il­le­gal record­ing that pub­li­cized racist re­marks he made to a girl­friend. It also says the league com­mit­ted a breach of con­tract by fin­ing Ster­ling $2.5 mil­lion and that it vi­o­lated an­titrust laws by forc­ing a sale.

Shelly Ster­ling said that she had agreed to sell the team to Ballmer “un­der her author­ity as the sole trustee of The Ster­ling Fam­ily Trust, which owns the Clip­pers.”

Don­ald Ster­ling can try to re­in­state his trustee­ship by ap­peal­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia Pro­bate Court.

The NBA said Fri­day that the league, Shelly Ster­ling and The Ster­ling Fam­ily Trust had “re­solved their dis­pute over the own­er­ship of the Los Angeles Clip­pers.”

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Ster­ling sits with her hus­band, Don­ald Ster­ling, right, dur­ing the Los Angeles Clip­pers’ NBA bas­ket­ball game against the Detroit Pis­tons in Los Angeles. An in­di­vid­ual with knowl­edge of ne­go­ti­a­tions to sell the Clip­pers says Shelly Ster­ling has reached an agree­ment to sell the team to for­mer Mi­crosoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 bil­lion. The in­di­vid­ual, who wasn’t au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Thurs­day, May 29, 2014, that Ballmer and the Ster­ling Fam­ily Trust now have a bind­ing agree­ment. The deal now must be pre­sented to the NBA.

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