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How Shelly Sterling took control of the Clippers from Donald Sterling

Jun 10, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT

Donald Sterling, Rochelle Sterling Donald Sterling, Rochelle Sterling

Donald Sterling won’t agree to sell the Clippers.

Does he need to for the sale to happen?

Shelly Sterling says no.

It’s not due to a letter Donald sent before rescinding its message. It’s because he was rule mentally incapacitated.

How did that happen?

Scott Cacciola of The New York Times:

Pierce O’Donnell, Mrs. Sterling’s lawyer, turned to a roomful of lawyers, investment bankers and financial advisers and said, “Time to go to Plan B,” according to advisers who were in the room.

It was a reference to a provision in the trust that controlled the Clippers that stipulated that if Mr. or Mrs. Sterling was found to have a cognitive impairment, the other had a fiduciary responsibility to become sole trustee.

That legal maneuver, so closely held that some of Mrs. Sterling’s advisers were unaware it existed, capped a hectic, weekslong effort to wrest control of the team from Mr. Sterling.

Mrs. Sterling has maintained that she was unaware of the provision until late in the process, according to her advisers. But on May 13, the day after she watched her husband give a rambling interview to Anderson Cooper of CNN, she called Mr. Sterling and urged him to undergo neurological testing, according to people with knowledge of the conversation. She told friends that she was motivated by concern for her husband.

Mr. Sterling agreed to an appointment for that Friday, May 16, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. 

Mr. O’Donnell, her lawyer, was well aware of the legal ramifications of the hospital visit, according to participants in the negotiations. Medical documentation of Mr. Sterling’s condition could allow Mrs. Sterling to take control of the trust. This was “Plan B.”

The doctors’ conclusions were clear, according to participants who have reviewed the records: A neurologist affiliated with U.C.L.A. Medical Center and another from the San Fernando Valley found Mr. Sterling to be affected by cognitive impairment.

From the perspective of her legal team, that documentation was the weapon they needed to strip the team from Mr. Sterling.

Mr. O’Donnell faxed papers, along with the doctors’ reports, to Mr. Sterling’s lawyer, Maxwell M. Blecher, that informed him that Mrs. Sterling was now the sole trustee, according to people briefed on the negotiations.

Mr. O’Donnell then called Richard Buchanan, the N.B.A.’s general counsel. Mr. Buchanan and other league officials had reviewed the doctors’ reports, according to people briefed on the negotiations.

If it really is that easy for Donald to lose control of the trust – Shelly didn’t even need to establish his mental condition in court first – his lawyers failed him when they wrote the trust agreement. They failed him again when they allowed him to make that May 16 appointment.

The only possible significant outcome was Donald losing his control of the trust. If he’d been found fully competent, nothing would have changed. If there were real concerns about his health, his lawyers should have ensured nobody but Donald could get access to his private medical records.

If you believe Shelly didn’t know what she was doing when she urged Donald to to the hospital… well, don’t be so gullible.

Either way, Shelly is getting half of the sale value. But by running the search herself, she did it on her terms. She negotiated a deal that gives her ties to the Clippers – tickets, parking and control of the team’s charitable foundation. Another perk for Shelly, as reported by Cacciola: three championship rings if the Clippers win an NBA title.

Of course, Donald’s lawyer says the medical tests were inconclusive. They can try to establish that in court.

But for now, even after NBA review, Shelly is in charge. All she had to do – whether or not she knew it (wink, wink) – was convince her husband she was concerned about his well-being. The doctors and lawyers took care of the rest.

  1. duhwighthoward - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Jerdog, where you at boy?

    How does it feel to be wrong on every count yet again?

    And to know your “source” the entire time has been your ticket agent, Ha!

    • 00maltliquor - Jun 10, 2014 at 3:53 PM


  2. bobulated - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Man, I hope my wife screws me into a billion dollars someday.

    • irvness21 - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Right!!!! This was a WIN WIN situation for him… if he was found competent, he could play around for another few days and sell the team or have the NBA vote him out and they sell the team and give him the profits, or she take control, sell the team and he still collects a check for the profits. Not sure where Donald is getting punished here!!!

  3. finsfan71 - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Sterling made an appointment at the request of his estranged wife to undergo a neurological test. AND HE DID IT!

    • 6thsense10 - Jun 10, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Just the fact that he agreed to the evaluation requested by his estranged wife was enough in my opinion to declare him mentally incapacitated.

  4. finsfan71 - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Sterling made an appointment at the request of his estranged wife to undergo a neurological test. AND HE DID IT!

  5. finsfan71 - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    That alone proves that he is mentally incapacitated. (sorry for the double post)

  6. mckaymatt - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Yeah, where’s Anderson Cooper again? I thought he said that Donald wasn’t mentally incapacitated…oh wait he wasn’t a doctor?

    Agree with the above, I’d love to be screwed into $10K let alone $1B

  7. harshedmellow - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    There’s a whole wide world of difference between being mentally “impaired” and mentally “incapacitated”. I suspect the doctors reported the former but Mrs. Sterling’s lawyers ran with the latter, and the NBA ran along willingly.

    A mentally impaired person- depending on the impairment- retains their rights in our society. Driving, gun ownership, control of finances…. a mentally incapacitated person is at risk of losing said rights. But they have to be declared as such by a court. So, MAYBE the trust agreement is set up to allow stripping him of the team due to impairment… and/or MAYBE the docs actually called him out as incapacitated… but I doubt either is true.

    This is gonna get uglier…

  8. chunkala - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    We’ll see about the supposed sale. Not buying it yet.

  9. jerdogthompson - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Hay the duh,

    Your sadly mistaken to say anything other than I’ve been 100% correct all along. The ramblings of a mentally incompetent fool do not change a single thing (or did you not read the article). Look I’ve maintained all along that by the end of August a new buyer would be in place. That in fact is the case today, this is merely media fodder that changes nothing.

    Secondly, my source is not my ticket guy. Although that source is far superior to what you have. Like I’ve said since day one, my predictions were based upon the renderings of legal experts, of which none of the knuckleheads here are. So if I have a source, that would be it. You need to go back through my posts since April and realize that 100% of what I said in April holds true today. To come out and say otherwise only furthers proves your ignorance.


    • duhwighthoward - Jun 10, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      Thumbs up jerdog.

      But wait, are you saying that I have to wait until August before I can say you were wrong?

  10. captainwisdom8888 - Jun 10, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Why can’t both of these clowns just fall off the face of the earth already? Donald has proven to be a disgusting individual, and while his wife was quick to distance herself from his racist comments, she has a history of acting like a bigot herself. There’s a reason why these two were married…they have alot in common and share many of the same racist views.

    The Sterlings only had one card to play after Donald said what he did…and that was for Shelly to step in and try and keep the team in the Sterling family herself. I know you cannot just take ownership away from someone with a snap of a finger, but ideally neither of these idiots should be behind the wheel of this franchise.

    *P.S.- It quite literally pains me to even lay eyes on Shelly Stirling.

  11. sdelmonte - Jun 10, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    That, my friends, is one messed up marriage.

  12. nicofthenorthstar - Jun 10, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    If he is mentally incompetent/cognitively impaired, then how does the NBA have any right to force a sale, banish him, and fine him based on his behavior/words? If he is not impaired, then Shellfish has no right to take over control of the team.
    This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The further this process develops, the more foul the stench.
    Just one more example of how completely crooked the NBA is.

  13. maestro3k - Jun 10, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Ummm I maybe late on this but she did not take control since old Donald still holding out and in face refused to sign off the sale of the team and is still suing the NBA!

  14. ravenswhat - Jun 10, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    All of you commenting about how you wish you too could get a billion dollar windfall so what’s the problem…you do know he was and is a billionaire regardless and that this is more about being FORCED to sell something because of something he said which is covered under freedom of speech. You do know this, yes?

    • mazblast - Jun 10, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      Freedom of speech was not restricted here. He was and is free to say whatever he wants to say. What is at work is the law of consequences, that you can say whatever you want but that saying it carries consequences. There is no freedom from consequences.

      • bkbell3 - Jun 11, 2014 at 4:02 AM

        See this statement that alot of people make is stupid.This is about private franchisee business and the articles that said members willingly signed that govern their business. Aside from that speech is not free if their is consequences,ie. “a price to pay” for that speech. That statement as written is stupid. Consequences = price to pay = not free. And i understand the first amendment is about free speech without the government comming after you and arresting you. But even more so today even that isn’t true as there is many things you can say that will have the gov. or homeland sec. etc. coming after you and some of those things will get you grabbed and whisked away without any due process.

  15. jerdogthompson - Jun 10, 2014 at 6:43 PM


    What I’m saying is its impossible for me to be wrong, I predicted the team would be sold and that’s what’s happening as we speak. Okay, so it happens September 1st? Was I wrong? No, my timing of the actual date was off slightly. Everything I’ve said since April is 100% correct, this thing can be wrapped up in July. Does that make me wrong, gimme a break.


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