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Donald Sterling won’t agree to Clippers sale, instructs attorney proceed with lawsuit against NBA

Jun 9, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT

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

You thought Donald Sterling would go quietly? Why? Just because he said he would?

Ha!

What we all hoped would be an inconvenient delay has turned into the worst-case scenario.

Dan Woike of The Orange County Register:

Donald also won’t sign off on the sale of the team to Steve Ballmer, according to the Associated Press.

Whether Donald needs to agree to that sale is a different question for himself, Shelly Sterling and their lawyers to solve. The Sterling Family Trust owns the Clippers and reportedly specifies when one spouse can take control – and Shelly had Donald ruled mentally incapacitated, giving her power to set up the sale of the team.

Donald Sterling’s first move would be to regain his share of the trust, and he’s going to try to do that reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Through her Sterling also released this statement:

“From the onset I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I am extremely sorry for the hurtful statements I made privately. While this is not an excuse for the statements, like every other American, I never imagined that my (they) would be made public. I believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers and banning me for life from the NBA. Action taken by Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of freedoms that are afforded to all Americans. I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights. While my position may not be popular, I believe my rights to privacy & preservation of my rights to due process shouldn’t 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.”

His real challenge is this — the Clippers are a franchise of the NBA and Sterling, on multiple occasions, agreed to the NBA’s rules, processes and adjudication systems. This is not the government trying to strip him of his business, this is his partners voting him out of the company. Very different things. Few legal experts think Sterling stands much of a chance here.

It is his challenging of Shelly Sterling and taking away his authority in the trust that is more interesting. That will be decided in a California probate court.

If he can do that, he would have the leverage to block the sale. If Donald Sterling fails in probate, then both the sale and the indemnity that Shelly Sterling offered the league — saying the Trust would pay any money Donald Sterling wins suing the league, meaning he is basically suing himself — remain in place.

If Sterling does regain say in the trust the NBA will re-schedule its vote to remove Donald as the Clippers’ owner. Yes, the league has a little egg on its face for allowing Sterling to continue owning the team for whatever the extra time becomes, but that’s not a huge deal. The other owners will almost surely vote out Donald.

If Donald is voted out, the ramifications would be wide. Shelly would also lose her ownership of the team, meaning she couldn’t sell the team to Ballmer (and couldn’t agree with him to preserve her place as owner emeritus). The NBA would take over the sale and then give the proceeds to the Sterlings.

A temporary injunction could delay or maybe even stop that process, but Sterling is unlikely to get an injunction granted.

Sterling is on his way out one way or another. It’ll just go through the courts rather than happen smoothly.

  1. miamiHeatlesnotBeatles - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    I AM SO SICK PF DONALD STERLING!

  2. miamiHeatlesnotBeatles - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    I AM SO SICK OF DONALD STERLING!

  3. iangas33 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    Who cares. NBA made him sell the team, and banned him….don’t expect him to pay a stupid fine.
    THIS STORY BLOWS

  4. wilmyers09 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    going to laugh when he go brokeo karma going to suck for him and he will deserve it

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 10, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Go broke?

      At 80 plus years old with a net worth of around $2 billion and change?

      Kinda hard to blow through Billions when one is OVER 80…

      Just HOW can you think, under these circumstances, that he would go broke?

      I have no doubt that through businesses he owns, primarily his real estate company, plus investments and money in the bank, that he earns/makes more money each day than he spends at this point.

      It isn’t like at this age he can do things like go climb Mt. Everest and pay $80,000 or so to the guide to get him up there.

      He’s too busy shaking people down for THEIR money to take the time to spend his money.

      Go broke you say?

      He might be a backwards old man, but he was successful for decades. It isn’t like anyone GAVE him $1 billion plus dollars.

      No one is that generous. Now that he’s in his 80′s, with ZERO track record of being broke, you think he’s going to go broke now?

      Sterling NEEDED to go from the NBA, no doubt of that…

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        What are you: an economist! Too bad guys like you don’t run this economy instead of you know who.

  5. bucrightoff - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    He is nucking futs.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 10, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      dude is coo coo for coco puffs!

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:36 AM

        Who isn’t in Los Angeles? The difference is Sterling is a f-cking POS racist pig, while most Angelenos are good crazy. That hot sun and all the granola has a way of doing that.

  6. mogogo1 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    No surprise since there is zero incentive for him not to sue. If he loses he still gets every single penny for the team. And if he would win he could conceivably keep the team plus win some damages. It’s a total win-win for him. What the NBA is going to be forced to do is offer him some sort of payoff to drop the suit and go along with the sale. That will be hard to stomach but it’s the only way this gets resolved any time quickly.

    • kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      I hope he wins.. I want to see how the commish handles that..

    • RavenzGunnerz - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:57 AM

      If he loses, he actually might need to pay the NBA. Either way he will pay the NBA.

    • spursareold - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:42 AM

      Do you understand what “indemnify” means? Shel has indemnified the NBA against this suit. If Donald wins, the damages are paid BY THE CLIPPERS. There is nothing to “win”.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        That’s why he is challenging in probate court to regain his vote in the trust.

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        As always, asimontetti makes the situation clear as a smog free day in L.A.

  7. thundergunxpres - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    He will have to pay to sue so he will lose money by going to court, also who is to say by stopping this sale for 2 bil which only one man was willing to pay that they will still be able to sell team for same price?

  8. harshedmellow - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    So…. many….. typos….

    I’m not a ball-buster on this but I have my limits. A little proofreading please? We can wait another 20 minutes for the post.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      Mellow out. Don’t be harsh. Just kidding.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      Why waste time proofreading when the commenters do it for you?

  9. sumkat - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    He should just sell the team and get it over with

    That being said, it’s going to be tough to argue that the other owners should be able to force him to sell the team because he holds an opinion the rest don’t hold, no matter how reprehensible, is in no way illegal. It will be interesting to see a legal argument that would allow him to force him to sell, AND keep them in their anti-trust status

    • kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:36 AM

      I agree with some of what you said. he has every right to his opinion and unfortunately the right to say it. if they are trying to ban him for what he said, then ban Larry Johnson from all NBA functions for what he said regarding there needs to be an all black NBA.

  10. 93warchant - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    wait. ok wait. hands on hips smh. you buy something worth 12.5 million you f-up and told to gtfo… oh and by the way here’s your parting gift 1 billion 887.5 million on top of investment and you still wanna act a fool. Somebody anybody tell Donald to take the money and walk away. Your in a no-win situation suing the league… son.

    • rawgator06 - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:20 AM

      Add 100 million

    • kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:40 AM

      a man in his 80s and worth millions.. I do not think he is worried so much about the money as he is the principle. he made a comment that did not sit well with blacks. He is being forced to sell his team. Larry Johnson makes comments about there needing to be an all black NBA, Charles Barkley made comments for years about whites.. blacks call blacks the N-word.. where is the difference? if you are going to hold one person responsible for his words, hold everyone. I do not agree with what he said, nor would I say that, but he has the right under the US constitution. if you do not like that, then maybe Donald is not the one that should be leaving.

      • spursareold - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:54 AM

        Not a freedom of speech issue. No one is going to jail.

      • elvoid - Jun 10, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        Spursareold: You are exactly correct. kgsmith and plenty of others have no understanding of constitutional “freedom of speech” and the protections afforded.

      • kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        spursareold
        I didn’t say anything about anyone going to jail. my point was why is it ok for blacks to make racist remarks and not be held accountable, but whites cant?

      • bougin89 - Jun 10, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        It’s getting so old saying this…Freedom of speech but not freedom of consequence.

        The only constitution that has any authority here is the NBA’s constitution. How in the world is that not totally clear?

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        kgsmith – Jun 10, 2014 at 9:57 AM
        my point was why is it ok for blacks to make racist remarks and not be held accountable, but whites cant?
        ——————————————————————————————————————–

        It’s not ok for anyone to make racist remarks.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Team sold for $2 billion

      Capital Gains tax will be right around $662 million

      That leave $1.338 billion left over for Donald and Shelly.

      They have to split that amount so…

      Donald will walk way with $669 million dollars for the sale of his team for $2 billion.

      IF he and his wife were staying together, they’d have the $1.338 billion.

  11. eugenesaxe1 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    It’s times like this when “upside the head” should be legal and mandatory.

    • kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:41 AM

      like freedom of speech?

      • spursareold - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:50 AM

        Not a freedom of speech issue. No one is going to jail.

      • elvoid - Jun 10, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        kgsmith – you really don’t understand the concept. Please explain how Sterling’s right to free speech under the constitution has been viloated. Here, let me save you some time: It hasn’t.

      • kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        making him sell the team and banning him from the NBA is not a punishment for what he said?

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        It’s not against the law to be an ignorant POS or CantonPeaBrain and other idiots would serve life in prison. What part of the NBA being a private business able to police their own racist pigs don’t you understand? Are you white trash like Sterling?

  12. xxakshunxx - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    Best case scenario: league takes over sells team for way less than 2 billion so the Sterlings end up getting less money

    • spursareold - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:51 AM

      I would absolutely love to see that.

      Cranky old goat.

  13. kgsmith - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:30 AM

    stand up for what is right Donald. although I do not agree with what you said, you had every right to say it. The NBA is the most double standard league in pro sports. Charles Barkley made so many comments about whites, and latinos yet he still has a job. Larry Johnson came out and said there needs to be an all black NBA, yet, nothing was done. Sterling makes a stupid comment and he gets banned.. I thought he was protected by freedom of speech?

    • spursareold - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      Not a freedom of speech issue. No one is going to jail.

    • bougin89 - Jun 10, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Owners cannot devalue the brand of the NBA. Sterling devalued the brand with his comments. As soon as sponsors started threatening their dollars the NBA acted quickly.

      Regardless Sterlings freedom of speech wasn’t violated in any way. If you tell your boss to F off, will you be protected by “freedom of speech”. It’s baffling you think this is in anyway a freedom of speech issue…

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      “I thought he was protected by freedom of speech?”

      He is. He’s not going to jail.

  14. khmerson562 - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    As a lakers fan I hope d sterling still own the clippers.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 10, 2014 at 8:12 AM

      man…i feel ya. his ineptude to run the franchise has been a 30 year running joke. as a Laker fan as well…i love it!

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        Meanwhile the Clippers are one of the NBA’s best and the Lakers are one of the worst.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 11, 2014 at 8:11 AM

        ha! yeah…you are right…and clipper fans have been waiting 30 years to say that! 30 years, man….30 years. let that sink in for a bit. i’ll take years/decades of excellence over this little blip of success the clips have presented. but hey, i’m more of a grand overall picture type guy.

  15. bballhistorian - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    Where Al Copone when you need him?

  16. RavenzGunnerz - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    Did you see sterling on tv?

    Do you really thing he can deal with:

    1. Lawsuit against the NBA
    2. Lawsuit against his wife
    3. Lawsuit against former employee

    at the same time? To me I think it’s a lawyer who is taking advantage of a senile old man…

  17. papichulo55 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    He’s out, dont worry. This is just an attempt to leverage the worldwide attention of the Finals. He knows the League wants everyones undivided attention on these games. So he makes some noise now, hoping to get some concessions. Ultimately, he will see that it wont work, and will agree to the sale. And, if by chance it does work and he gets the fine rescinded, it will have cost him nothing since his lawyers have already been retained. The beauty of this is that his adversaries are billionaire businessmen and not some low-to-middle income family just trying to get a decent place to live. He does not really want to be judged by a jury of his peers. He will fold.

  18. ravenswhat - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    As much as I hate his comments he made I can’t blame his conduct here. The NBA is way out of line throughout all of this. This is Adam Silver trying to make his presence felt through the support of the court of public opinion. Nothing more.

    • spursareold - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:53 AM

      The court of public opinion is very important when your business model depends on viewership and merchandise sales.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      You should learn more about how franchises work.

  19. kitnamania13 - Jun 10, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    This is wonderful news for those of us who enjoy a good farce. I’ve got my popcorn.

  20. rayburns - Jun 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    First, think of the NBA as an exclusive country club. The club defines the membership and the rules that pertain to maintaining that privilege of membership. Sterling signed a document (several actually) that gave the the club and other owners the right to rescind that privilege should he do something detrimental to the overall health of the club. Sterling did something that directly affects the health and prosperity of the club that he belongs to and the owners, as is their right under the terms of membership in the club, can remove Sterling from that club. In a very real sense, Sterling waived his rights when he joined the NBA country club.

    In other words, this has nothing to do with Freedom of Speech but has more to do with a group of rich men trying to protect their own self interests.

  21. rrhoe - Jun 10, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    I may be in the minority here but for the sake of moving on just rescind the damn fine and lifetime ban to allow the sale to go through. In the future if he comes to a game he will doing so as a paying customer,if he comes and acts a fool then escort him out and ban him from the arena.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      The NBA doesn’t want to lose anymore face than it has for letting be an owner for 33 yrs.

      But, the whole ball of wax should be taken into account.

      If Sterling was like 65 yrs old, I’d say no way, ban remains in place.

      But, he’s over 80 yrs old and in bad health. Under these circumstances, it is different than if he had decades of expected life in front of him…

      The league knows they’re in a stronger position than him so I think they’ll tough it out.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      The NBA doesn’t want to lose anymore face than it has for letting be an owner for 33 yrs.

      But, the whole ball of wax should be taken into account.

      If Sterling was like 65 yrs old, I’d say no way, ban remains in place.

      But, he’s over 80 yrs old and in bad health. Under these circumstances, it is different than if he had decades of expected life in front of him…

      The league knows they’re in a stronger position than him so I think they’ll tough it out.

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