Donald Sterling, 80, was banned for life by the National
Basketball Association in April and fined $2.5 million after a
leaked tape of him making racist remarks to a girlfriend prompted an
outcry from fans, players and sponsors of the team.
The league has tentatively approved a deal by Shelly Sterling,
co-owner of the franchise, to sell the club for $2 billion to Steve
Ballmer, the former Microsoft Corp chief executive.
At one point, Sterling said he supported the move, but he declared
late on Monday the Clippers were not for sale, and that while he
realized it might be unpopular, he would fight to keep the club he
built over 33 years.
Sterling's lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, said on Tuesday he expected his
client would eventually challenge the clause in the family trust
that gave his wife control of the team when doctors deemed Sterling
incapable of managing normal business affairs.
Last month, two neurologists found Sterling to have Alzheimer's
disease, which triggered the clause handing control of the family
trust that owns the team to Shelly Sterling.
According to the clause, Donald Sterling would not have standing to
block the sale. The deal has been tentatively approved by the
league, but must be voted on by owners.
David Cornwell, a sports lawyer with law firm Gordon Rees Scully
Mansukhani, said that while Sterling’s lawsuit did not hold much
legal weight, it could cause Ballmer to have second thoughts about
"I don't know if I'd go through with it at this point," said
Cornwell. "Two billion dollars is quite a bit to put on the line to
have it subject to the whim of a district court judge."
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Representatives of the Clippers had no comment on Sterling's latest
comments, in which he apologized for his remarks but said he never
wanted to sell the team and that the NBA had acted against him
illegally and in haste.
The NBA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sterling has sued the league and its commissioner, Adam Silver, for
at least $1 billion in damages, alleging they relied on evidence
inadmissible in a California court to oust him.
Silver says Sterling's lawsuit against the league is the only
obstacle to the sale of the Clippers.
Marshall Grossman, a lawyer who represented the Los Angeles Dodgers
baseball team in its ownership battle between Frank McCourt and his
ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, said if it was true that Sterling was not
mentally competent, there could be a petition filed for a
court-appointed conservator to take over and represent his
"He should take the money and exit gracefully," he said.
(Additional reporting by Casey Sullivan and Edith Honan in New York;
Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Peter Cooney)
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