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Report: Donald Sterling declared mentally incapacitated, clears way for sale of team to Ballmer

May 29, 2014, 11:51 PM EDT

Donald T. Sterling, Rochelle Donald T. Sterling, Rochelle

I imagine Donald Sterling is going to fight this one too, but…

Shelly Sterling has been granted the authority to sell the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer because her husband and co-owner Donald Sterling has been declared mentally incapacitated under the terms of the trust the couple owns the team through. That made her the sole trustee and decision maker.

That according to the tapped in Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

There have been reports and rumors that Donald Sterling has been battling dementia, which is the reason his former mistress claimed to make the recordings that sparked the controversy in the first place (he would forget what he had previously said). Donald also is reportedly battling prostate cancer.

Donald and Shelly Sterling each own half of the Clippers through a trust, although Donald is the recognized primary owner by the league under its constitution. However, a finding of mental incapacity would change the dynamic of control of the franchise.

NBC has confirmed that Shelly Sterling and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have signed papers where Ballmer will buy the Clippers from the trust for $2 billion (a record NBA price, almost four times the previous high). Those papers have been sent on to the league office for review.

The league has yet to comment on the latest reports. As of now there is an NBA Board of Governors’ meeting (the other owners) scheduled for June 3. At that meeting the owners would conduct a hearing then vote on whether to strip Sterling of his ownership of the franchise in response to the backlash that followed his prejudiced comments on a recording released to TMZ, plus later in a CNN interview.

Reports have suggested the league would postpone that meeting and vote if a sale agreement (with terms, a price and a new owner they liked) was in place before next Tuesday. Shelly Sterling and Ballmer are hoping this fits that criteria. For the league, a sale by the Sterlings is a much cleaner process.

Donald Sterling had publicly flip-flopped between saying, “Why would I want to fight my partners?” as he did on CNN and promising to “fight to the bloody end” in court as he did through his lawyer in an official response to the charges against him from the league.

However if he has been declared mentally incapacitated that would take him out of the picture. Under the terms of the trust he did not have to be declared incapacitated by a court of law, the structures are different, Shelburne reports.

We do not know how recently this incapacity was declared, under what circumstances, and how it would hold up to a legal challenge in court. It seems fair to assume that Donald Sterling’s first move would be to fight this ruling.

However if this holds up it seems as if the saga of the Sterlings could have a path to ending. Which is what everyone wants (except possibly Donald Sterling).

  1. chargerdillon - May 30, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    You could almost say he was having a……BLACK OUT!

  2. mackcarrington - May 30, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    I had a family member with dementia. I thought Sterling exhibited some of the same signs. Constantly changing his mind,
    Seeming sudden rash decisions and declarations. Dementia may have played a role in what he said on those recordings.
    Dementia can strip away the veneer or facade of social acceptability, and the person afflicted will say revealing things they may have long thought, but never publicly said before. I’m not at all surprised.

    • zoomy123 - May 30, 2014 at 3:31 AM

      Well, thank you for your over-the-internet diagnosis. I mean, since you know somebody with dementia obviously you’re qualified to diagnose it in others. It hasn’t even been confirmed that Sterling has dementia; the only thing we know is that he was declared mentally incapacitated. In any event, even if he has dementia that has nothing to do with his racism, which has been widely documented for years.

      • blueintown - May 30, 2014 at 7:42 AM

        I’m not sure a post on a basketball blog qualifies as an official clinical diagnosis.

      • devasher - May 30, 2014 at 9:28 AM

        “Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause long term loss of the ability to think and reason clearly that is severe enough to affect a person’s daily functioning. For the diagnosis to be present it must be a change from how the person was previously” Per wikipedia

        You see, if Sterling has a loss of cognitive abilities due to a disease (and say, not a bump to the head) why yes, then he would have dementia. The poster was not claiming he had Alzheimer’s (a specific type of disease) but rather they thought he showed signs of an umbrella term used for a general loss of cognitive abilities. Which, God forbid, they share on an internet forum without people like you castigating them for it.

      • zoomy123 - May 30, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Everything you wrote is completely irrelevant to what I wrote. The OP was talking about how he thought Sterling might have dementia because someone he knew had dementia and Sterling seemed to have those same symptoms. I was saying that you can’t diagnose a person over the internet; that’s what my sardonicism was directed at.

  3. jerdogthompson - May 30, 2014 at 12:15 AM


    Big boy pooped his big boy pants, pun intended. Let’s get this thing finished. Opening night for the Clippers, free windows for the entire Staples Center!


  4. au1978 - May 30, 2014 at 12:37 AM

    He was always planning on letting the sale go through. His tough lawyer talk was just a cover. He’s selling this team for 170 times more than he paid for it and at least twice what it’s worth. Doesn’t get much better than that.

  5. campcouch - May 30, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    What? Ah, he hadn’t lost his mind generating billions for the NBA,but as soon as it’s convenient…So,does this clear the way for her to pilfer the rest of his fortune? He said some ignorant things,but this is ridiculous. He broke no law except that of public opinion and now his “wife” has had him declared incapacitated in order to rake in $2 billion dollars. Will she do it again in order to pilfer the rest of his money? Man,I have enough issues with girlfriends,stuff like this reinforces my lack of desire to be married. Public humiliation and having to sell wasn’t enough penance for his remarks,now they must completely destroy him. I hope Silver brings the pain when the players screw up morally and legally,but I know that won’t happen.

    • urodaddy07 - May 30, 2014 at 1:14 AM

      Him being ruled mentally incapacitated doesn’t mean he won’t get his money

      • allamer1 - May 30, 2014 at 2:51 AM

        He hasn’t been ruled incapacitated by a judge. His wife’s “expert” decided that.

  6. eugenesaxe1 - May 30, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    That’s a nice convenient excuse for his (recent) actions. Not that it isn’t believable, but it didn’t happen overnight.

    • jpstyles314 - May 30, 2014 at 2:45 AM

      Key word, “recent”.

  7. misterdreamer119 - May 30, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    Sterling just made 1 billion for talkin crazy. Can he really be that crazy? Bad thing is, the new owner will bleed clipper fans dry and suck bandwagonners of their money.

    Meanwhile all pro sports franchises become over valued like the housing bubble.

    Look for a clipper channel from tim warner and all that. The next nfl team to sell with be 3 or more billion.

    • jpstyles314 - May 30, 2014 at 2:46 AM


    • asimonetti88 - May 30, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      If Time Warner bids on Clippers, I’m going off cable for Hulu and Netflix. We’re already paying too much to cover the Lakers, Angels and Dodgers channels, no way Angelenos should have to pay for a Blippers channel too. These channels are covered by rising the cost of cable for everyone. Eventually the cable bubble will burst when people realize how much they’re being gouged by cable companies for these TV contracts with sports teams.

  8. trevor123698 - May 30, 2014 at 1:23 AM

    oh great another criminal owner and this time isa huge fish who used CIA funding to give rise to microsoft similar to the way ted turner did the same thing with CNN. I expect dirty dealings a plenty with this team in the near future

    • weaselpuppy - May 30, 2014 at 1:37 AM

      First Balmer Clippers giveaway? Tinfoil helmets, for those that don’t have them already.

    • jpstyles314 - May 30, 2014 at 2:49 AM

      Everybody knows he killed Biggie and Lorenzen Wright ( 1996 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7th overall Selected by the Clippers).

      • mazblast - May 30, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        And Tupac, JFK, RFK, MLK, and John Paul I.

  9. ravenswhat - May 30, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    I understand the guy is a kook but this whole thing just feels wrong the way they are forcing him to give up HIS business. Feels very communistesque.

    • asimonetti88 - May 30, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      You should learn more about how franchises work.

  10. witchrunner - May 30, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    The more the facts play out the more this reminds me a bunch of bullies in school picking on a kid with downs syndrome. Truly despicable!

  11. chicago240 - May 30, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    At a bar some months ago:

    Don – I’d love to sell the team.
    Shelly – If only we had a way to make everyone in the USA crazy excited about us selling the team.
    Don – You mean where the NBA would pull out all the stops to buy our team.
    Shelly – I know it sounds crazy but, we did buy it for $18 Million….maybe we could get MORE than a lousy billion.
    Don – I have an idea….

  12. omeimontis - May 30, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    He should just take the money and retire into the sunset.

    • chicago240 - May 30, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      For you investment geeks out there, that’s a 17% annual internal rate of return on the initial investment…every year…for 30 years. Not bad when inflation has average about 3% during that time.

  13. cueghost - May 30, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    So… if he is mentally incapacitated, then should he even be held accountable for what he said in the first place? You can’t be sending whores with tape recorders in to sabotage the lives of the mentally incapacitated elderly, can you?

  14. mazblast - May 30, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    Wait a second.

    If he has dementia, then he can’t be held responsible for his statements, and the league ruling forcing the “Sterlings” to sell has no basis.

    So Shelly “Sterling” can keep the team, Donald “Sterling” can keep his courtside seats, there’s not huge tax liability to be paid on the gain because there’s no sale, and he can do whatever he wants because he’s not responsible!

    Slick maneuver, Mr. and Mrs. “Sterling”.

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