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Report: Shelly Sterling heads to court seeking hearing to allow her to sell Clippers

Jun 10, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

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

Donald Sterling is going ahead with his $1 Billion lawsuit against the NBA and Adam Silver, a story that grabs headlines.

But if he doesn’t win in probate court against his wife Shelly Sterling that lawsuit is an exercise in futility.

Shelly Sterling is heading to probate court Wednesday to start the process to pre-empt any efforts by her husband Donald to re-instate himself in the family trust, which would allow him to block the sale of the team, reports the Associated Press.

Shelly Sterling will go to probate court Wednesday to seek an emergency order for a hearing so a judge can confirm her authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, according to an individual familiar with the matter….

The aim of Sterling’s court bid is to have a judge confirm provisions of the family trust to ensure the Ballmer sale moves forward without a hitch. Donald Sterling has the right to present his side at any hearing and appeal any decision.

His attorney Maxwell Blecher said a representative for Donald Sterling will likely be at any hearing but declined to comment further Tuesday. Sterling’s attorneys have called the idea that he is mentally incapacitated “absurd.”

Here’s the backstory: Shelly and Donald Sterling co-owned the Clippers through the Sterling Family Trust. However, after some neurological exams following his appearance on CNN the doctors concluded he could be ruled incapacitated under the terms of the Tryst. Shelly had Donald declared incapacitated, and that Machiavellian move gave Shelly full control of the trust and the team, and she used that control to set up the sale of the team to Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion.

That sale with Ballmer would give Shelly Sterling “owner emeritus” status including floor seats to home games, parking spots, championship rings if the Clippers ever win one, and she would control a charity set up out of the proceeds of the sale of the team and loosely tied to the Clippers. Basically, she would get to still be around the team.

Donald Sterling still faces a lifetime ban from the league as well as $2.5 million fine.

Should Donald be successful with this process and he is able to reinstate his authority with the trust and to block this sale, the NBA will move back to its original plan and call for a vote of the owners to strip the Sterlings of their ownership. That’s what Sterling’s original lawsuit was aimed to block, but most legal experts think the league prevails because this is a franchise situation. Basically, the other owners have the right to vote Donald Sterling out of the club if he is bad for business (and sponsors have already pulled out from the team, they did so during the playoffs).

But it never gets to that if Shelly Sterling wins in probate court.

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