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NBC News: Donald Sterling to file $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against NBA

May 30, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

It was not if, it was when. And when was Friday afternoon.

NBC News has learned banned NBA owner Donald Sterling plans to file (likely Friday afternoon in Los Angeles) an anti-trust and other violations lawsuit against the NBA seeking $1 billion plus treble damages. The goal of this lawsuit is to seek damages from the NBA for his lifetime ban and the termination of his ownership (something the league has worked toward but has not been voted on by the other owners, the hearing is set for June 3).

Sterling may file another lawsuit is to block the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports via Sterling’s attorney Max Blecher.

The NBA announced its deal with Shelly Sterling and the Sterling Trust is official and the sale to Ballmer can go through. As part of that the NBA has agreed to drop its effort to vote the Sterlings out as owners in exchange for indemnity — meaning the Trust would pay any NBA losses to Donald Sterling in court. Meaning Sterling is essentially suing himself if he goes through with this.

Donald Sterling and his wife Shelly each owned half of the Los Angeles Clippers through the Sterling Family Trust (he was the recognized primary owner by the league) but she had him declared mentally incapacitated, making her the sole trustee and clearing the path for the sale of the team to Ballmer for $2 billion.

Donald Sterling’s lawyers have vehemently denied he is incapacitated.

Sterling has been expected from the start to fight the forced sale of this team by the league. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came out in the wake of a recording made public by TMZ (and later a Donald Sterling interview on CNN) and banned Donald Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and started the procedure to strip him of ownership.

Shelly Sterling set up the sale with Ballmer (this would be a cleaner process for the league that removing the Sterlings as owners and selling the team themselves). To do that she had to have Donald declared mentally incapacitated so she had sole control over the family trust, allowing her to execute the sale. Both sides here confirm that Donald met with neurologists in the last month who tested him — the results of those tests are what is in question.

TMZ is reporting Sterling is battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Sterling’s attorney told Rachel Nichols of CNN that is a vast overstatement of what was found. This is from her twitter account.


Sterling always says he doesn’t want to start a fight as he starts one. Not reading much into that.

All of this — Sterling’s mental capacity, the legality of the sale to Ballmer, whether the league can remove Sterling as owner and sell the team themselves if this first sale falls apart — is all going to be decided by the courts now.

As we always expected.

  1. 1historian - May 30, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    This is getting better by the minute – pissed off v. politically correct.

    At’s all about MONEY

  2. jollyjoker2 - May 30, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    if the “league of rich guys ” can make him sell – he might have a strong case. It would be entertaining if he wins .

  3. bmore44 - May 30, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    All planned. The guy will probably win against NBA too. Lol.

  4. loubearkane - May 30, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Good for Sterling , he might be old and senile but damnit if he helped build the NBA he can help destroy it

    • spursareold - May 30, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      WTF? He had nothing to DO with building the NBA. He bought his team almost 4 decades after the league started.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 30, 2014 at 7:01 PM

        Funny how the people supporting Sterling have no clue what they are ever talking about….lol “Helped build the NBA”
        “Blah Blah Blah Free Speech….’Murica!”

      • loubearkane - May 30, 2014 at 7:16 PM

        It was a joke!!!! I’m sure he believes he did build the NBA

  5. eugenesaxe1 - May 30, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Reagan ran the country while dealing with Oldtimer’s. People knew the lights were going out, and still voted him in for a second term.

    • sportsfan18 - May 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      damn glad he was voted in both times too…!

    • jollyjoker2 - May 30, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      sort of like Obama – nothing upstairs except poverty pimping and the next election.

  6. spursareold - May 30, 2014 at 6:21 PM
    • spursareold - May 30, 2014 at 6:23 PM
  7. RavenzGunnerz - May 30, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    All this will be moot if the owners vote him out. He might not even get the 2bn.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 30, 2014 at 7:03 PM

      The vote him out and handle the sale themselves where they sell the team for 2B and give it to Sterling.

      He’s getting his money

  8. lgwelsh1 - May 30, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Sue them into the ground, drag it out as long as you can!

  9. lgwelsh1 - May 30, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Sue them into the ground, drag it out as long as you can!

  10. pukpokito - May 30, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    For clarity in legal procedures, the lawsuit is to so that Sterling (who also is a lawyer) recieves punitive damages (from the NBA) for forcing him to sale the team. Punitive meaning future team earnings (annuity pay stream) that he is now being forced to abandon. It is his citizen right to file a civil petition. The NBA will just settle out of court for an agreed discount of the future annuity and determine present value of the payment stream. He will get a lump sum and the terms will include a gag order.
    Sterling and family will have to pay $662 milion in tax off of that $2 billion.Sterling is trying to make up for that tax his side has to pay by squeezing more from the NBA.Yup, It is Business as usual.

  11. loubearkane - May 30, 2014 at 7:29 PM

    Now if the new owners wife can not post pictures of her with blacks it should go smoothly.

  12. mythaimyke - May 31, 2014 at 3:03 AM

    Hope Sterling sues those 2 sleezey gold digging whores in his life, too!!!!!!!!!!!!

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