May 30, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
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.
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.
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