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Shelly Sterling beats Donald Sterling in court, clears sale of Clippers to Steve Ballmer

Jul 28, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

Donald Sterling, done in by his own idiocy several times over, has effectively run out of chances to keep the Clippers any longer than it takes to complete the paperwork of a sale.

Make no mistake, Sterling was going to lose his team no matter what. He was essentially fighting for which method of removal would end his demonstrably racist reign.

This is how he goes down, losing a legal battle to prevent his wife, Shelly Sterling, from selling the team on his behalf. Shelly will soon make her $2 billion sale to Steve Ballmer thanks to a judge’s ruling today.

Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times:

NBA release:

The following statement has been issued by Mike Bass, Executive Vice President, Communications, regarding today’s probate court ruling regarding the Sterling Family Trust:

“We are pleased that the court has affirmed Shelly Sterling’s right to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer.  We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible.”

This is a huge win for Shelly, who gets a bunch of perks because she split from her racist husband just in time to get as many of their ill-gotten gains for herself

It’s also a huge win for the other NBA owners, who don’t have to deal with the nasty task of voting out one of their own and get a $2 billion sale on the record that inflates the values of everyone’s franchises. Yes, the league wanted Sterling out no matter what, but this was the most profitable – not the quickest – way to achieve that goal, and don’t forget that fact as everyone celebrates Sterling’s downfall.

One more huge winner: Steve Ballmer, who gets an NBA team. He might have overpaid, but that’s his choice, and the judge affirmed his right to make it.

The loser is Donald. This saga isn’t over, but with his ability to appeal restricted, I can’t see how he blocks the sale any longer. Soon, the team will be Ballmer’s and Donald’s legal fight seeking financial remedies will fade into the background. At that point, I don’t care much how billionaires split up their money.

Donald is out, which is good. If you want to feel icky about this whole affair, I hardly blame you. I’m not exactly looking forward to a Ballmer reign that leaves Shelly a visible part of the franchise just so other owners can inflate their own wallets, but here we are.

  1. zoomy123 - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Thank goodness. Hopefully the NBA can now continue to pretend like they didn’t know Sterling was racist all along and they can breath a sigh of relief that they didn’t have this come back to bite them in the rear.

    • antistratfordian - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      It’s not about pretending. How could the league do anything legally in regards to his racism if they didn’t have concrete evidence? Even when the league had the racist rant recording in their possession it was still a long, drawn out process – so they would’ve had no chance to force change without first coming across something like that recording.

      • zoomy123 - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:55 PM

        Concrete evidence? You’re joking right? How many times has Sterling been sued by the Justice Department? How many players and people have talked about what he’s been saying and doing? Did anybody ever speak out about Sterling? No. They all sat there, kept their mouths closed, and did nothing.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:07 PM

        All of that was based on hearsay. And that’s not enough, obviously.

        Players like Baylor who accused him of racism only did so after Sterling fired him. Before that, Baylor worked for Sterling for 22 years without complaint. So how are people supposed to take an allegation from someone like Baylor?

        In any case, there’s nothing quite like a smoking gun. Sterling has always been able to weave his way through the law and avoid pitfalls without it. But he hit a brick wall this time.

      • zoomy123 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:47 PM

        Hearsay is when you testify to what someone told you that someone else said. The Justice Department had people testifying who themselves were the victims of Donald & Shelly Sterling’s racism. That’s why Donald settled the case and paid the fines. Anybody with a brain and an internet connection can find all the evidence they needed and/or wanted.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:55 PM

        My point is their testimony is only so strong. He said, she said. And the Justice Dept didn’t win that case. As far as I know, no one has won a racism case against Sterling. They’ve just settled.

        There wasn’t enough there for the NBA to oust Sterling. The recording removed all doubt though.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:12 PM

        Technically the Justice Department “didn’t win”, mostly because Sterling settled because he knew he would lose. He also lost a case to the Housing Department of LA for $5 million

      • antistratfordian - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:19 PM

        It doesn’t necessarily mean he knew he would lose, it could also mean that he would rather end it as soon as possible. But what could the NBA have done at that point? Look at all the backlash the league got even after catching him red handed. Imagine them trying to ban him for life without it. It wasn’t possible, which is my point.

    • RavenzGunnerz - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      Oh, aren’t you the one who was hoping Sterling wins? Are you sad?

      • zoomy123 - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:56 PM

        You have me confused with someone else, lol. I was hoping that he lost. I just didn’t want the NBA’s hypocrisy to be lost in all of this.

    • witchrunner - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      This decision is really a lot bigger than this one case. Anyone who is anyone is now open to blackmail and losing their jobs and careers if they ever utter an unPC word. It also means that bullies are no given free reign to bully. Of course, if you are a minority, then you are free to be as bigoted as you want, because that is PC acceptable. It’s why Obama and his thugs get away with it all the time. Oh well, welcome to the USSA. What Constitution?

  2. casualcommenter - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:44 PM

    The judge frankly noticed what a lot of people have commented on in the past, which is that Donald Sterling is almost certainly suffering from dementia.

    Sterling is a successful businessman and an NBA owner who has survived multiple allegations of racist behavior in the past in part because he’s a been a smooth talker and savvy negotiator. He’s been able to charm and persuade people for most of his life.

    However, what you hear on the tape recordings is a man who slurs his words and rambles from one thought to the next. His ex-wife and mistress both say he’s been having worsening memory problems. As part of the sales negotiation, he reportedly changed his mind multiple times before filing lawsuits. In addition, Sterling agreed to a TV interview soon after the tapes went public and he started off the interview well before trailing off mid-sentence and beginning an epic rant against Magic Johnson that didn’t exactly earn a positive reception.

    This is all evidence of a guy whose mind is going. It’s not surprising a doctor diagnosed an elderly man with memory, concentration, and mood issues as suffering from dementia, and it sounds like the judge finds the diagnosis to be very credible, so he’s preventing Sterling from wasting more time by limiting his appeal options.

  3. doctorofsmuganomics - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Just a reminder: Shelly Sterling is just as much of a scumbag as donald

    • mazblast - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      However, she is not as vocal about it as he is.

  4. eugenesaxe1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    When your choo-choo goes a’chuggin’ around the corner, it’s all a matter of how you treat people. The Donald was a turd, and was treated as such. Meanwhile, we let Reagan in the same room as the nuclear launch codes and let him dictate national policy.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      A Terminator governed California. Anything’s possible.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      we “let” Reagan in the same room as the launch codes?

      uh, don’t you realize the launch codes are ALWAYS with the president?

      “According to a Washington Post article, the president is always accompanied by a military aide carrying a “football” with launch codes for nuclear weapons.[1] The football is a metallic Zero Halliburton briefcase[2] carried in a black leather “jacket”. The package weighs around 45 pounds (20 kilograms).[3] A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle.[3]”

      We don’t have to “let” a president in the same room as the launch codes. he can’t get away from them.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        My point being we elected him President when he was obviously half looney-tunes. It wasn’t that hard to figure out.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      What’s wrong with Reagan dictating national policy?

      • spursareold - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Well, he’s dead…

    • klingonj - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      thanks- that was short yet pointless

      • eugenesaxe1 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        Likewise.

  5. thewizkid89 - Jul 28, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    I love America. The land of the free! Where every is guaranteed human rights, such as the right to own property, and free speech …
    Well until you say something racist that is .. Then it’s all taken away.
    This is a joke.

    • sabatimus - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM

      I’m laughing, why aren’t you?

    • nfl4days - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      Say it with me slowly. Free. Speech. Only. Applies. To. The. Government.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:30 PM

        Then, when done with that try this too–Franchises. Aren’t. Real. Property. And. Can. Be. Removed. By. The. Parent. Corporation.

      • wordyduke - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:15 PM

        Let’s say it clearly. One is free to criticize the government as long as the courts don’t find your criticism to be sedition. (That is, in 1943 you wouldn’t remain free if you went to the town square and called on people to commit sabotage on behalf of Hitler.)

        You are free to criticize your boss, but you might lose your job, and if you say untrue things, your boss might sue you for slander.

        If you say things that others find repellent, they are free to refuse to do business with you or to kick you out of their club. That’s what happened here.

      • shanelsweet - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:26 PM

        Hey wordyduke, thanks for writing it so well. If folks don’t understand, it’s ’cause they’re trolling or racist.

      • realfootballfan - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:54 PM

        Not to mention that a private club like the NBA can do wtf they want basically. Same way they can keep 18 year olds out of their sport.

      • thewizkid89 - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:39 AM

        @nfl4days
        Well honestly i did not know that.
        In my country, the law regarding “free spech” is phrased in such a way, that the goverment is supposed to PROTECT you, from any prosecution as a result your opinions, and while there a obvious exceptions (Racism actually being one of them) but those exceptions only applies if such opinions is expressed in a public forum, which this one was obviously not.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:32 PM

      hey, not so wiz kid

      your free speech is protected FROM the Govt.

      The Govt did not go after donald sterling

      please don’t speak about things you know nothing about.

      “The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.”

      The govt didn’t interfere with donald or his team.

    • urodaddy07 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:02 PM

      You’re pretty dumb aren’t you. A franchise is not property in the physical sense. The NBA allows “owners” to run a part of their business so long as they do it the way the NBA wants. Once again, its not the same as owning a house. Jeez! And yeah he has free speech, in fact he can continue to say what he likes, like anybody else, but there is a price for that. No one is saying he can’t say what he wants, but like everything else in life there are consequences for your actions.

    • jteng044 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      The freedom of speech only protects you from the government prosecuting you. The NBA is a private corporation. This is just like at work. If you said something racist at work and it got out and everyone knows about it, your employer has the right to lawfully terminate your employment because it is bad for business and the public perception your company wants to display. You have the freedom of speech, but there are consequences for exercising that freedom.

    • rehabguy - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      With freedom comes responsibility.
      If you are irresponsible there are consequences.
      Even if you are rich.
      Thank Goodness.

  6. seasickcecil - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Freedom of speech comes with responsibility. What comes out of your mouth is all on you.

  7. frank35sox - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    I don’t agree with Donald’s comments, but the fact remains its utter BS to take his business from him over remarks made in private. He would have lost his team regardless–but it should have been because players and sponsors rebuked him. As Mark Cuban said, this is a treacherous slippery slope.

    • jhorton83 - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:49 PM

      It’s not his business. It’s an NBA FRANCHISE. Owning an NBA franchise is not a right. Sterling is free to go start his own basketball league if he wants. Why is this a difficult concept to understand?

      • geejon - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:06 PM

        Because a lot of people who also share the same thoughts as Sterling are upset that he was forced to sell for revealing feelings they also share …. or they’re just morons.

      • frank35sox - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        What I find difficult to understand, is how you find it difficult to understand that he didn’t break the any of the bylaws of the franchise agreement. If he had, I would be in agreement.

  8. mackcarrington - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    The Sterlings are the equivalent of sharks or piranhas. They devour everything in their path, and when that is gone , they’ll eat each other.

  9. antistratfordian - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    They were never going to find a judge in California that would side with Don Sterling.

  10. sdelmonte - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    Donald is about to get a 2 billion dollar payday. He is not a total loser, is he?

    • RavenzGunnerz - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      Not really. first, there is that capital gain thing… that’s almost 600mil. Legal fees and other fees, Shelly’s part, etc, etc… he will not see 2bn.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      Racists are total losers regardless of their financial status.

      • sdelmonte - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:25 PM

        True that, but he still gets more money than anyone of his ilk deserves.

    • wordyduke - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:21 PM

      He put in 12.5 million, ran the losingest and worst-run franchise in the league, and walks away with maybe 600 million after community property, taxes, and lawyers.

      That will buy a lot of silly rabbits.

      On second thought, Sterling couldn’t handle even one silly rabbit. Time to wind up his affairs.

    • rehabguy - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      Still a loser. Just with more money.

  11. rayburns - Jul 28, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Watching the way Silver handled this and comparing it to the ongoing train wreck that Goodell is currently presiding over should give a good feeling for NBA fans… and a touch of ‘what if Cuban was right?’ for NFL fans.

  12. campcouch - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    Ill-gotten gains?

    • klingonj - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      wish the author could explain what that term means.

  13. musketmaniac - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    lol, do you idiots really think racism is the biggest issue here. The real issue which will become a huge problem/financial gain in the near future is the clubbing of the wealthy elderly. They got 75% of the worlds wealth and Sterling is just the beginning. good times ahead. Now it’s time to research these retirement homes.

  14. jerdogthompson - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    I’m curious where duhwhight,thefakehtj,qbal,asimonetti, et al are hiding? Pretty sure that you’ve all opined how “Wrong” I was stating the new owner would be in place before the end of August. I’ve said that since April and here we are. Ah, the sweet, sweet taste of victory.

    Balmer will be a great owner, the team is in a far better place despite the fact Shelly gets to head a charity group that retains 10% of the team. The fact of the matter is that she too will be gone soon and nothing but a bad memory.

    By far the most important part of the judges ruling today is the fact the coach and the players can focus on what is important, the upcoming season and our quest for a title.

    Here it comes, ready yourselves trolls;

    #InDocwetrust

    • realfootballfan - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM

      Yes, Sterling still owning that team in recent years has been what’s kept me from taking them too seriously. Now, they have a real owner and are next in line for me as favorites to win it all this upcoming year.

    • Hard On For Harden - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      You calling others trolls? Pot meet kettle. Fact of the matter is you went MIA on every post that suggested the court battle would be lengthy and showed back on everyone that suggested the matter would be settled promptly. If this had not been resolved “by August”, you just never would have showed up again. It’s like that Simpsons bit where Lisa sells a rock to Homer for $5 claiming it keeps tigers away in response to the bear patrol.

      Anyway, way to go out on a limb in April and vaguely state it would be “wrapped up by August”. What a non conservative prediction, a modern Nostradamus you are (insert sarcasm). Now go back underneath the rock where you were hiding.

      #thisdoesnotworkonPBTsostop

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:22 PM

        hashtags make you look smart

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      I never said anything about Sterling remaining owner. Good for the Clippers. Now maybe they can focus on making it out of the second round for the first time in their 40+ year history.

  15. realfootballfan - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Predictably.

  16. jshawaii22 - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Also note that Shelly and the family was being blackmailed by the Vixen long before this become public. I’m sure that during that time, Shelly and Donald were working as close as two people who despised each other in a failed marriage could. He was in full CYA mode when this became public.

    js

  17. tomtravis76 - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    The Clippers must have a sweetheart deal with Staples Center, because can’t imagine a new billionaire owner sitting back watching someone else profit off his investment. Don’t think Ballmer is ever leaving LA, but a new arena for his Clippers could be an option in about 5-10 years.

    • mackcarrington - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:02 PM

      Actually their deal isn’t near as good as the Lakers. But you raised a good point. In the past Sterling turned down the opportunity to have his own place in Orange County. Who knows how Ballmer feels about that?

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        Stop trying to pawn them off on us! lol

      • mackcarrington - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:26 AM

        Yeah, The Los Angeles Clippers Of Anaheim.

  18. mazblast - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Mrs. “Sterling” has won this round, and with it the league, Ballmer, and the fans win, too, BUT don’t think this is over. “Sterling” still has money to pay lawyers, so he’ll find some who will file appeal after appeal, suit after suit, against the league, against Mrs. “Sterling”, against anyone he or they can think of to sue.

    Remember, while Donald “Sterling” is among the lower life forms considered human, there are lower ones who will do his legal work for him.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m on the side of the league, the fans, Mrs. “Sterling”, Ballmer, and common decency and against Mr. “Sterling”. I just fear that this is still going to be tied up in court for a while because of his scorched-earth policy, aided and abetted by high-priced, low-life scum calling themselves lawyers.

    • daviddmsvcp - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:38 AM

      “Remember, while Donald “Sterling” is among the lower life forms considered human,”
      You don’t know very much about people.

    • spursareold - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      You haven’t read the article, have you? The judge disallowed any stay of sale on appeal. Sterling can’t stop the sale now.

  19. atahualpaoxford - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:25 AM

    I was hoping that Sterling would win…
    I forgot that in the “New world Order”, you can not win against the establishment…
    Everything was stacked against him..
    now, the players don’t have to strike, the NBA don’t have to deal with a problem, we can go back to play basketball without distractions…
    Everybody wins…against good judgement and justice…
    Oh well…ces’t la vie…
    Mavericks are to be crushed…

    • spursareold - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      It’s time for your meds, and put that tin foil hat back on…

  20. rajbais - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    What’s next, divorce court for the Sterlings??

    • spursareold - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      Doubtful. This, to me, is just the first step. Shel will likely push for a broader declaration of incompetence beyond the scope of the trust, just to stop all of the predatory lawyers itching to sue on Donald’s behalf. Once she does that, he literally can’t file for divorce. He would essentially become her legal ward. Why should she settle for half? He has Alzheimers and prostate cancer. He’ll be dead in just a few years. If they’re still married, she gets everything. I’m sure that’s the only reason she hasn’t filed yet, in spite of what a dog Donald is.

  21. jerdogthompson - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    @HardforHarden,

    Just finished vacation bud………..not to mention the “multiple stories” you claim indicating DTS would be able to drag this thing out indefinitely have been few and far between. I was hiding no where, I was sipping Pina Coladas on a beautiful beach or by poolside while you were hawking the PBT board.

    Fact of the matter is that if in fact this had not gone this way, I would simply have to admit being incorrect. But fact of the matter is I predicted correctly based upon my interpretation of the legal experts renderings. Has nothing with being a modern day Nostradamus, it has everything to do with being able to read and extrapolate based upon renderings of the “actual” legal experts.

    Nice try though…………

    #InDocwetrust

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