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Sources: Donald Sterling allows his wife to negotiate sale of Clippers

May 23, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, his wife Shelly, and actor George Segal attend the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Reuters

At his press conference this week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed Donald and Shelly Sterling selling the Clippers before the NBA removed the family’s ownership:

Mrs.Sterling as I understand it through a trust owns 50 percent of the team, as well.  It is their team to sell, and so he knows what the league’s point of view is, and so I’m sure if he wanted to sell the team on some reasonable timetable, I’d prefer he sell it than we go through this process.  So if that’s what you mean by man‑to‑man, I’m open to that.

Silver might get his preference.

Sources tell NBC’s Matt Zimmerman that Donald Sterling has given control of the Clippers to Shelley Sterling.

That confirms something first reported by TMZ:

Donald Sterling is no longer the controlling owner of the Los Angeles Clippers … TMZ Sports has learned he just surrendered control to his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, and she is now secretly negotiating with the NBA to sell the team … ON HER TERMS.

Sources connected with the Sterlings tell us … Donald made the decision because he saw the handwriting on the wall — as long as he remained in control, the NBA would order an involuntary sale of the team.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN actually explains it better:

The Sterlings may be trying to negotiate the sale of the Clippers but it remains to be seen if the NBA will allow them to do so.

First off, the league released a statement saying that it will continue on its timetable for a June 3 hearing and vote. The league is not about to give up that leverage.

Next, there is no way Shelly has become the Clippers’ controlling owner, as the first reports indicated. That’s a change that must meet league approval, and not only would she have to answer a lot of questions in the vetting process, it would be a very public process we would know about (like any other ownership change). That has not happened.

This is a deal between Shelly and Donald, it is not something with the league.

It’s possible Shelly – an alternate governor for the Clippers – has assumed Donald’s vote. The NBA constitution stipulates:

Each Member shall be represented on the Board of Governors by a Governor who may be replaced at will by such Member (and who shall be an individual who is an Owner, or a director, officer, or authorized employee of such Member), and who shall be vested with the full power and authority to represent such Member and to bind such Member by his or her vote.

This is an informal arrangement, at least as far as the NBA is concerned. Silver wants the team sold, and if Donald is willing to accommodate rather than sue, all the better. In effect, I’m not sure anything will proceed differently than had he just agreed to sell the team himself.

The one thing that could throw a wrench in all this is that Shelly Sterling wants to keep a piece of the team, reports Jeff Zillgitt at the USA Today.

Shelly Sterling has agreed to sell the team as long as she retains a minority interest in the Clippers, according to the second person, who also requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

Several players have told PBT this would be unacceptable to them. The league office has had the same reaction, which is another reason they are continuing to move forward with the efforts to terminate the Sterlings’ ownership.

The NBA contends, if the other owners vote to remove Donald’s ownership, Shelly would also lose hers. That vote is scheduled for June 3.

The clock for Shelly to complete a sale is ticking.

  1. zacksdad - May 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Sell while hot. If you fight it, players will not sign with them and some Clippers players might refuse to play. All this will bring down the value of the Clippers. The Clippers have never and will never be at a better value to sell.

    • duhwighthoward - May 23, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      I rooted for them all season, but let’s be honest. None of these guys have the spine to boycott.

      If they did, the Clippers could hire a bunch of scabs (scrubs) and field a lineup as good as the Lakers.

      You’d take racist dollars too zacksdad.

      • RavenzGunnerz - May 23, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        I doubt anybody would go to those games. Plus, there is a league salary floor. So, the franchise would lose lotta money. Does Sterling really want to lose lotta money at this time?

      • jdubs82 - May 23, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Plays hold out all teh time demanding trades, better contracts, etc….what makes you think they wouldn’t do it here? Plus from a PR standpoint the league is not going to “force” black players to play for a racist, they’d more likely just void the players contracts allowing them to sign with the highest bidder (citing hostile work conditions or something along those lines)

      • beach305 - May 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        Not to mentioned that it will kill the value of the franchise.

      • duhwighthoward - May 23, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        History has proven you all wrong. Donald Sterling has been a notorious racist for decades. It never stopped anyone before.

        And to further my point, the Clippers were the worst franchise in American sports, but people kept coming to the games no matter what.

      • bougin89 - May 23, 2014 at 1:54 PM


        In the NBA and MLB players do not hold out for more money while under contract. This is one of the benefits of having guaranteed contracts. These contracts aren’t torn up or “re-done”.

        Free agency is different…

    • chunkala - May 23, 2014 at 12:29 PM

      Exactly, that’s why the NBA didn’t need to involve themselves in this nonsense. The market would have taken care of itself, with no free agents venturing to LA and fans not attending the games. Unless, the NBA knows that Sterling would have been able to entice players to sign with him, maybe from Europe, and that possibly most players don’t care about his comments that much if he’s willing to give them millions of dollars.

      • beach305 - May 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        That never stopped Sterling before. For decades his roster was built to make him the most off his return. Losing season after losing season and he just sat there an laughed raking in the money. He never cared about winning until very recently.

    • florida727 - May 24, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      I sort of disagree with #zacksdad, not by much though. Yeah, like everyone else, I think Sterling is an idiot and bad for the league, but this is still America and I’ve yet to see LEGALLY how the league could force him to sell. As far as a player boycott, I actually do NOT believe it would devalue the team. The team is the brand. If/when they do sell, regardless of which players are playing for the new owners, the team is still the team, if you know what I mean. The entity has a certain intrinsic value regardless of who plays for them and regardless of who owns them. The brand is definitely hot right now though. Ironic, huh? This clown has to sell now, and they’ve never been worth more.

  2. bucrightoff - May 23, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    As an FU to the league, the Sterlings would be doing well to sell it to the Seattle group so they can move the team.

    • RavenzGunnerz - May 23, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      Do you realize that the league still has the right to approve any sale?

      • bucrightoff - May 23, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        And they’re going to say no to the money that comes from a relocation fee, likely to be a record fee? I sincerely doubt it. Any sale/move will be primarily focused on money. Seeing as the Seattle group has already shown the willingness to spend a ton of money, they’ll be involved in the process.

      • spursareold - May 23, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        They’re not going to move a team from the #2 media market to the #14 market. That would adversely affect their negotiations for the next NBA TV deal.

      • bucrightoff - May 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        Yeah, cause moving from Seattle to OKC was….???? And it’s not like they’re abandoning LA, we all know LA is a Lakers town and when they come back the Clippers are again marginally relevant in LA.

      • gpatrick15 - May 23, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        I don’t see them turning down a deal with the Seattle group. Of all the teams that have been sold, the Clippers are the least attached to their city. The fans only care about them because they are relevant right now. LA is and will always be a Laker town, The league can benefit substantially from a sale and move to Seattle.
        -The Clippers sell at a record price
        -The league owners collect a record breaking relocation fee
        -The Clippers get their own stadium and own city, and can no longer be most known as the LA stepchild.
        -The league gets a set of model owners willing to pay whatever the cost to buy the team and keep them relevant.
        It’s a win win, should the Seattle group get approved.

      • spursareold - May 23, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Seattle had arena problems. The NBA worked with them for YEARS to get it done, and it didn’t happen. The Clippers have no such issues. They also have a lease that runs through June, 2024. The situations are not at ALL comparable. Oh, and the only thing better than one playoff team in the #2 market is TWO playoff teams in the #2 market.

      • RavenzGunnerz - May 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        Look Seattle fans, Clippers can get 10% of LA market and it would still benefit the league moooooore than moving to Seattle.

        A Lakers v. Clippers rivalry is something the league wants. Clippers games in these playoffs were the most rated games in the West. You know what that means?

        It means that even when the Lakers are struggling, Lakers fans still watch anyways because they want the Clippers to suffer.

        No way in hell LA stays with 1 NBA team. No way jose.

      • gpatrick15 - May 23, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        If Seattle’s new ownership group is willing to presumably front most of, if not all, of the money to build a new stadium, I don’t see how their past arena problems would be a factor. And the fact that the Clippers are finally relevant after decades of cellar dwelling shouldn’t be much of a factor either, when history says the Clippers will sooner or later decline back to the cellar. If the Lakers return to contending (a big if, with Jim Buss prominently involved), the Clippers will be forgotten, as usual. I’m not saying it’s 100% going to happen, but it’s ridiculous to think it won’t at least be considered.

      • dirtymcgirty - May 23, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        The team’s not going to Seattle. Everyone was lauding the Mariners for their mind-boggling 18 year, $2.5 billion ($139 million a year) tv deal last year.. then the Dodgers blew them out of the water with a 25 year, $8.35 billion deal ($334 million a year).

        Magic and the Guggenheim guys got a $200 million a year premium simply for broadcasting to the #2 media market. Now the Clippers are supposed to just pick up and leave? If Chris Hansen and his Seattle guys managed to outbid Guggenheim, they’d be fools to move the team only to set up shop in the #14 media market.

        The NBA bought the New Orleans Hornets from George Shinn in 2010 for $300 million. The league sat in the team for 2 years before selling it to the Saints owner for $338 million. During those 2 years that no one wanted the team, the Seattle guys could have easily snatched it up and moved it home. Looks like they dropped the ball on that one.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      It’s not really a “FU” to the league if you’re going to defend why they would approve the sale in your next post is it?

  3. dirtymcgirty - May 23, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    How would that be an “FU” to the league? They’re being forced to sell, which they don’t want to, and the league would have to approve the move to Seattle.. which they probably won’t.

  4. illmatic8582 - May 23, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    as long as she does not sell to Magic Johnson or Floyd Mayweather I will be happy

    • gpatrick15 - May 23, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Yeah Magic came off as too much of an opportunist in this whole ordeal, IMO.

    • jimeejohnson - May 23, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      You might be mad, bro.

    • dirtymcgirty - May 23, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      I hope Magic does get it. The Guggenheim Partners are sitting on over $200 billion. With the Dodger purchase, they’ve already shown their willingness to overpay for a team in an anchor city. I highly doubt Shelly’s gonna turn down more money to avoid selling to the guy with “those AIDS”.

      • illmatic8582 - May 23, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        He was just a little to eager to swoop in and buy the team. As far as I’m concerned he should be investigated because this whole things smells like a set up. And he seems like an opportunist.

    • au1978 - May 23, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      Was Stiviano baiting him? Absolutely. But you really can’t “set up” someone to be racist. They do that all by themselves.

  5. jerdogthompson - May 23, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Since day one I predicted this day, its funny all the trolls predicting a multi year litigious battle have seemingly disappeared into the woodwork from where they came. Where are you trolls? Come on out and admit you were wrong, ah too busy hiding behind their shame I guess.

    Oh yeah by the way, if the same trolls that predicted the above are now jumping over to the “move the team to Seattle” topic then so be it. However, you are WRONG just like you were WRONG about the first position. But as I’ve said all along, keep the moronic posts coming, it does serve to entertain those of us with an IQ in the triple digits.

    Yeah, a buyers group is gonna pay top dollar for the Clippers to move them to Seattle. Perhaps if you morons would actually read what you post before actually posting it you could save yourself from further humiliation. Talk about from feeble minds come feeble ideas.


    • giantsninerswarriors - May 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      It takes talent to say so much while saying absolutely nothing at the same time.

      • bougin89 - May 23, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        Haha. I was thinking the exact same thing.

    • RavenzGunnerz - May 23, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      Why would NBA leave a city:

      – NFL competition.
      – No. 2 media market.
      – Hollywood. Yes, you heard right, Hollywood. Glamour.
      – A Surging Clippers fan base.
      – Huge latino & asian community

      To move to the northwest???

    • borderline1988 - May 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      Well you’re right that it seems like the nasty years-long legal battle won’t occur. I don’t know why you’re so proud of that supposed prediction, it’s not one based on any greater intelligence on your part, you just guessed the situation.

      My own guess is that Sterling at his age and with his pride and without the time to spend all that money, would probably have fought this until the bitter end just to screw over the league, even though his lawyers are probably saying that in the end, the NBA has the legal right to do what it wants to do.

      However, Sterling’s wife is probably desperate to sell..she realizes that the value has never been higher than now, and she doesn’t want to throw away potentially hundreds of millions of dollars just so that her crazy, senile husband can stick his middle finger to the league and its players. For Donald, it’s about pride. For Shelley, it’s not her pride being sacrificed, she probably doesn’t care about basketball as much as Donald, and selling now almost certainly means more $$ than if this thing drags on.

      So Shelley probably got into a room with Donald, squeezed his balls until they almost exploded, and suddenly we have a sale happening.

      ANyways, that’s my guess.

      • RavenzGunnerz - May 23, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        I think everything you said probably happened, except the part about squeezing his balls.

      • mackcarrington - May 23, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        Donald has prostate cancer. He no longer has any balls.

    • duhwighthoward - May 23, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      You know your IQ score?

      • sportsfan18 - May 23, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        Hey genius, you left off the “Do” at the front of your statement up there…

        I mean you capitalized the first letter and used a question mark… so I know you tried…

        But you still failed…

        Duh indeed!

  6. jimeejohnson - May 23, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I know a bunch of L.A. Lakers fans who would love to see the team that shares their home and totally outplayed them move to another city. Then, the Lakers wouldn’t have to be the second best team in L.A. again!

    • jimeejohnson - May 23, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Just messin’ with ya, Lakers faithful. You have one of the premier franchises in all of sports, and a legacy to match. Los Angeles would be a better place if the Lakers could regain their greatness and play top notch hoops like the Clippers; like when the Yankees and Mets were on top of their respective leagues.

      • duhwighthoward - May 23, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        Why apologize? It’s true.

  7. acieearl - May 23, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Does anyone else find it hilarious that TMZ scooped Wojo, PBTalk, ESPN, and all of the other dedicated outlets on this? Heads must be rolling today.

    In the ESPN Ramona Shelburne article it is all the way at the bottom of the article…

    “The agreement between Donald Sterling and his wife was first reported by TMZ”

    • giantsninerswarriors - May 23, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      It’s not really surprising. TMZ headquarters is located in Los Angeles.

      • chunkala - May 23, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        Yeah, Disney/ABC/ESPN and their billions of dollars can’t afford sources in LA. Yikes.

  8. chunkala - May 23, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    I never knew that the NBA has the power of eminent domain.

    • acieearl - May 23, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      Never stop learning. Remember this moment when you are a billionaire in a professional sports league.

  9. mutasian - May 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    anybody but magic johnson or any other black should be allowed to buy this team. i prefer larry ellison.

    • xmen1906 - May 23, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Yes. keep the “blacks” out

  10. thegonz13 - May 23, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Wonderful! Now we will move on from vermin named Sterling and Stiviano.

  11. sellahh - May 23, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Thank you America. Thank you for making white people the actual victims of racism, thank you for choosing whats right to say and whats not and thank you for the gender ideology, do they teach it in school already?
    Sick to my stomach, praise Donald Sterling.

  12. jerdogthompson - May 23, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Judging from the 10 thumbs down on my comment it appears the trolls have been reduced to obscurity with their only recourse a thumbs down. I love it, you were wrong and all along I was correct. No other way to explain why a post based solely in fact would get thumbs down……..

    Humor us all with your stupidity trolls, c’mon………I’m waiting


    • jamkarat - May 23, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      chest pumping arrogance and name calling is usually the domain of teenage boys-I gave you a thumbs down for boorish behavior, and your belief that your ‘guess’ gives you some prescience.

    • bougin89 - May 23, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Since you said absolutely nothing of value, I gave you a thumbs down as well.

  13. cruzan80 - May 23, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    I never understood why at this point he was bent on keeping the team. You’re a 80 year old billionaire who’s now getting killed in the media on a daily basis. If he remained the owner…nobody of the same stardom as say Chris Paul or Blake Griffin would ever resign or come on board in the future anyway…so what is the benefit?

    Just cut your loses & sell the team for the hundred billions of dollars it’s still worth & disappear.

    • xmen1906 - May 23, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      Hundred billion dollars is a lot of money

      • cruzan80 - May 23, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        Lol, yes it is…hundreds of millions of dollars is what I meant…obviously.

  14. jerdogthompson - May 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    A guess? Hardly indeed. The prediction was based upon the volumes of legal renderings by the experts and an extrapolation based upon such. There is no chest pounding or name calling, using an adjective to describe someone is not name calling it’s called a proper description.

    My point being is the hundreds of people coming and espousing utter nonsense since day one need to recognize they did just that, espouse nonsense. Boorish, my my my that’s a big word. In its context it’s as inaccurate as possible but you truly get an A for effort.


  15. atahualpaoxford - May 23, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    What a fuc**ing travesti of justice…
    I still hope for him to sue the league for a zillion dollars, bring players from Europe and Latin America and field a team if these other players don’t want to do it…
    And then sue their a$$es if they refuse to honor their contract…
    Of course this is a crazy wish because he can not win this fight.
    They would make his life a living hell if he does.
    Welcome to the “new” politically correct America, where you’re going to like and love everybody…or they will make you…

    Will the players like the new owner..?? What if he keeps a monkey at home as a pet..?? Will they refuse to play also..???
    The inmates running the asylum…
    Completely, @%&*# unvelievable..!!

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