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Combative, lawyerly Donald Sterling takes to stand in his own defense

Jul 8, 2014, 8:19 PM EDT

Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling

When you’re watching a courtroom drama, such as Law and Order, one of the favorite courtroom tricks is to just let the guy on the stand talk and talk — give him the rope and let him hang himself.

That seemed to be the plan with Donald Sterling as he took the stand in a hearing to determine if Shelly Sterling and her doctors followed the Sterling Family Trust rules in having Donald Sterling declared mentally incapacitated, leaving her the lone trustee.

At stake is if the Clippers (owned by the trust) can be sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, as Shelly Sterling and the NBA agreed to. If Donald Sterling is reinstated as a trustee he can block the sale (at least in its current form). His lawyers say the tests and steps used to declare him mentally incapacitated did not follow trust rules.

Sterling’s reputation during other depositions — and he’s been sued and deposed a lot over the years concerning practices at the apartment buildings he owns around Los Angeles — is to be combative and he was that Tuesday. Especially going at opposing council Bert Fields, according to reports out of the courtroom by Arash Markazi of ESPN, Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, and Dan Woike of the Orange County Register

So, why does Sterling want to block the sale of the Clippers? Shelly Sterling says he gave her permission to seek the sale, which he said was misunderstood, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

As for discussing the mental tests that Shelly Sterling used against him, Donald Sterling was back to feisty with his answers.

The Doctor specifically refuted this on the stand yesterday.

When talking about his wife, Donald Sterling was all over the map, at times choking up and crying when talking about her and other times basically ripping her.

Pretty much every courtroom observer used the phrase “off the rails” to describe Sterling on the stand. He was sharp at points, but the lawyers just kept giving him rope. The question is how the judge views the testimony and factors it into the ruling, because Sterling took a shot at pretty much everyone but the judge.

Sterling even took a shot at our network.

The NBA is sitting back, watching the outcome of this, either ready to approve the sale of the Clippers or return to the steps of forcing Sterling out as owner through a vote of the other owners. This all stems back to leaked audio recordings of Sterling saying prejudiced things. Sterling has sued the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver on anti-trust grounds in a separate case.

  1. mcmystery76 - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    Well he’s right on about not relying on NBC news

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:32 PM

      Says the guy on NBC News.

      • explosionsauce - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:10 PM


  2. davidly - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Dallas Mavs reported to offer Sterling a max deal according to tweets.

  3. thenew013 - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    I hate when I overreact in very important situations.

  4. saint1997 - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    He’s working hard to change the meaning of the phrase ‘Sterling reputation’

  5. styx630 - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    I’d imagine Donald Sterling is more of a Fox News kind of guy.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 9, 2014 at 12:05 AM

      Donald Sterling is a Gray Davis kind of guy, which tells you everything you need to know about him

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 9, 2014 at 3:53 AM

        He’s a lot like the man who replaced Davis, the Governator himself, the Arnold!

  6. thehawg - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    I would lift the ban & fine so he would just go away, as long he sold the team.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 9, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      Yeah I’m surprised they wouldn’t do that just to put an end to this fiasco.

      • jimmy53 - Jul 9, 2014 at 10:01 AM

        seriously? Possibly because A) he doesn’t deserve to have the ban and fine lifted, and B) because once they lift the ban and fine there’s no guarantee that he would actually go away.

        Do you actually trust this guy to just disappear when there would no longer be any sanctions in place to make him do so?

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:19 PM


        A) Deserve is irrelevant. It’s a conversation about marketing. He was banned because he was bad for the NBA’s brand and this current fiasco is just as bad.

        B) There’s no guarantee he goes away WITH the ban. As long as someone is willing to stick a microphone in his face he’s not going away. A sanction from the NBA is not a sanction from media.

  7. pudgalvin - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    If you go over to deadspin and read them all, they’re pretty damn funny. The old bastard knew what he was doing. It was prime ball busting. To me, the guy showed more mental capacity doing this than if he’d just sat answered the questions like a normal crazy old man.

    • AZ Dem - Jul 9, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      Judges don’t have senses of humor. If the judge didn’t think he was mentally incompetent, Sterling would have held him in contempt and thrown him in jail. It’s not a school yard. It’s a court of law. His behavior was improper and disrespectful to the court.

      • pudgalvin - Jul 9, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        Lighten up, Francis.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        Well, Sterling has always been a shining example of proper behavior.

  8. pudgalvin - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    If you actually read all of them, and I think there’s a few more out there, they’re pretty damn funny. The old bastard knew what he was doing. It was prime ball busting. To me, the guy showed more mental capacity doing this than if he’d just sat answered the questions like a normal crazy old man.

    • pudgalvin - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:10 PM


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