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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.

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