WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 – The proceedings surrounding the sale of the LA Clippers promised to deliver some serious courtroom drama. However Donald Sterling (80) shouting at this wife “Get away from me, you pig” as she followed him to the stand was more than anyone expected.
Or was it?
And so went the Donald Sterling vs. Shelly Sterling and the NBA court proceedings happening in Los Angeles this week. Lawyers for Sterling are saying that wife Shelly Sterling did not have the authority to sell The Clippers.
On April 29, 2014, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that as a result of Sterling’s racially charged comments, specifically about basketball legend Magic Johnson, Sterling was fined $2.5 million, banned from attending any future games and the NBA began steps to force him to sell the LA Clippers.
“Make no mistake today,” Sterling shouted toward the end of his second day of testimony in the trial to determine his wife’s right to make a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers, “I will never, ever sell this team, and until I die I will be suing the NBA for this terrible violation under antitrust.”
Mrs. Sterling is acting on behalf of the jointly owned trust, that includes the LA Clippers. Sterling negotiated the sale on behalf of the trust after two separate doctors determined that Donald Sterling did not have the capacity to make decisions regarding the sale of the team.
The doctors determined that Sterling has Alzheimer’s disease, however the octogenarian says that his wife “tricked” him into meeting with doctors and participating in the tests and examinations.
Per the trust Shelly Sterling stepped in to negotiate the sale, and to most people she did a great job getting a record sales price of two billion from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
It would make the sale the second highest following the $2.1 billion paid for the LA Dodgers in 2012. Under the findings of the medical experts, Donald Sterling would not have to approve of the sale for it to go forward.
Sterling authorized Shelly Sterling’s role in writing to sell the team, however he now alleges that Shelly never “read” the trust, that she would not be able to understand the complicated trust. Sterling, who graduated from Southwestern University School of Law (1960), began his career as a divorce and personal injury lawyer, venturing into real estate including apartment units in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
In connection with his real estate holdings, the Housing Rights Center of Los Angeles filed a 2003 housing discrimination suit against Sterling. That lawsuit, filed on behalf of 18 tenants, alleged that Sterling had made comments such as “black people smell and attract vermin”, “Hispanics just smoke and hang around the building” as well as Sterling’s alleged intent to rent only to Korean tenants because “they will pay the rent and live in whatever conditions I give them”
In 2006 Sterling was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for refusing to rent to non-Koreans in the ‘Koreatown” neighborhood and African Americans in his Beverly Hills properties. (Wiki)
In 2009, Clippers executive Elgin Baylor sued Sterling for employment discrimination on the basis of race and age and that Sterling told him he wanted to fill his team with “poor black boys … and a white head coach.”
The value of the Clippers has been estimated to be in the $1 billion range, making Ballmer’s offer controversial to begin with. In January, prior to the scandal the team was estimated to be worth $600 million. Sterling paid $12.5 million for the team in 1981.
The Sterling saga is filled with past marital infidelities, estrangements and the tragic death of their son Scott.
Shelly Sterling has previously sued Sterling’s mistress, Alexander Castro seeking reparation for gifts, specifically a house, that Shelly Sterling claimed was purchased with join marital assets.
In a 32-page manifesto, Sterling claimed that the NBA could not act against him as the comments were recorded during a private conversation that was illegally recorded by his girlfriend V Stiviano.
In those recordings Sterling can be heard saying, in reference to Stiviano and Magic Johnson:
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people”, and, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want”, but “the little I ask you is … not to bring them to my games”
Sterling alleges that he has not broken any NBA rules. At the time of the scandal breaking, Sterling was scheduled to receive a second lifetime achievement award from the LA NAACP. At the same time as Silver’s press conference banning Sterling from the NBA, UCLA announced that it would be rejecting Sterling’s $3 million gift to the school
Sterling, known to be litigious, is promising a “lifetime of lawsuits” against the NBA saying he will never sell the Los Angeles Clippers
Under the findings of the experts, Donald Sterling would not have to approve of the sale for it to go forward.
The NBA wants this sale to go through so that the 2014-2015 season can start without controversy or players striking as long as Sterling, who has been accused of racism in the past, is still owner of the team.
YAHOO! News and Finance contributed to this report.