Report: Donald Sterling Reneges; Will Fight Sale Of Clippers & Still Sue

By: 06.09.14
Donald Sterling

Donald Sterling (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

It seems the detritus left over from Donald Sterling‘s tenure as owner of the Clippers still hasn’t been expunged. Less than a day after NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a press conference right before Game 2 Sterling had dropped his lawsuit against the NBA and agreed to the sale of the team — through wife Shelly — to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, he’s welshed on the deal.

Tami Abdollah of the Associated Press reports Sterling has withdrawn his endorsement of the Ballmer sale and will resume the $1 billion federal lawsuit he had originally filed against the NBA:

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has pulled his support from a deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and will pursue his $1 billion federal lawsuit against the NBA, his attorney said Monday.

“We have been instructed to prosecute the lawsuit,” said attorney Maxwell Blecher. He said co-owner Donald Sterling would not be signing off on the deal to sell.

Donald Sterling issued a one-page statement dated Monday titled “The Team is not for Sale” and said that “from the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.”


The lawsuit alleges the league violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an “illegal” recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend. It also said the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale.

This comes less than a week after reports surfaced he was going to let the sale go through — for double what he’s suing the NBA for, mind you — and drop the lawsuit.

Sterling’s wife Shelly, though, was able to assume authority as the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust — which owns the Clippers — after her husband was declared “mentally incapacitated” by experts. She then had the authority to agree on the winning $2 billion bid for the team by Ballmer.

Despite all this, Donald Sterling vows to fight.

“I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights,” Donald Sterling said. “While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled. I love the team and have dedicated 33 years of my life to the organization. I intend to fight to keep the team.”

It seems Sterling is still hung up on the $2.5 million fine and lifetime ban Adam Silver handed down after recordings of his offensively racist comments were eleased by TMZ during the first round of the playoffs. Sterling believed the fine and lifetime ban would be lifted if he dropped his lawsuit against the NBA and let the sale go through to Ballmer, but the NBA said no such deal was in place:

…Individuals close to the negotiations who weren’t authorized to speak publicly said he decided to not sign the papers after learning the NBA won’t revoke its lifetime ban and fine.

“There was never a discussion involving the NBA in which we would modify Mr. Sterling’s penalty in any way whatsoever. Any suggestion otherwise is complete fabrication,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

Sterling can agree to the NBA’s deal, or take it to court, where he’ll essentially be suing himself. As sole trustee, Shelly agreed to indemnify the NBA of all lawsuits, including one by her husband; if Donald wins a judgement, his estate is essentially paying the NBA whatever he’s awarded in court.

For Donald Sterling, it’s lose-lose scenario. In one avenue he collects $2 billion. The other — curren — course means he might not collect anything while continuing to be in the news for his racist comments and erratic behavior. The fact he chose the latter just means his mental stability has become even more clouded.

(Associated Press)

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