NBA owners to vote on Clippers sale, Sterling sues
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.”
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.