LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — While reports suggest embattled Clippers owner Donald Sterling has authorized his wife, Shelly, to begin reviewing bids from groups interested in buying the team, Sterling’s attorney said Wednesday that he intends to fight to maintain his ownership.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Shelly Sterling had begun reviewing bids from as many as five groups that were interested in buying the Clippers. The report went on to suggest that if a deal is reached before the NBA Board of Governor’s meeting in New York next Tuesday, in which a decision to vote Sterling out of ownership could be made, the meeting may not happen at all.
The Sterlings had reportedly set a deadline of 2 p.m. Wednesday to take bids on the Clippers and received between four and six bids.
However, Sterling’s attorney, Max Blecher, told KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen that the owner, who appeared willing to part ways with the team in a signed document last week, now has no intention to go down without a fight.
“He’s a fighter,” Blecher said. “I have not looked at the document, I can’t tell you. I understand it uses the term ‘negotiate a sale.’ He is looking at the word ‘negotiate’ not ‘sale.’ (Shelly Sterling) is looking, apparently, at ‘sale.’”
Blecher acknowledged that Sterling signed an agreement with his wife last week to negotiate the sale of the team. Further, in his interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sterling claimed that it was not worth his time or money to fight the league on his potential removal.
The apparent change in stance, Blecher speculates, is that Sterling has had time to get over his troubled emotional state after he was banned from the NBA in connection to racist comments he made on a leaked audio tape.
“I am not a psychiatrist, but I am giving you my assessment, (which) is that he was very much disturbed, shocked, upset by these charges at the beginning, and I think his equilibrium was affected,” Blecher said. “He’s emerged from that now.”
Blecher told CBS that he and Sterling are working on a draft for making a claim against the NBA.
Meanwhile, Shelly Sterling’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, released a statement that she been given permission by her husband to move forward in negotiating the team’s sale.
“Donald Sterling has authorized Shelly Sterling in writing to negotiate the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, including his 50-percent ownership of the team,” O’Donnell said.
As far as Blecher is concerned, the Donald Sterling camp is preparing for what could be a lengthy legal fight.
“We’ll fight it until some court says ‘you lose,’” Blecher said. “And frankly, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think these charges are so shammed, so flimsy, so dishonest, that no court in the United States is going to say, ‘Yeah, you can take the guy, and make him sell the team.’”
Sterling continues to maintain that the NBA cannot force him to sell the team based on evidence he claims was collected illegally by V. Stiviano.
Sports and entertainment lawyer Jeffrey Lenkov says he believes Sterling’s response and reportedly pending lawsuit is a strategic move to buy time by involving the courts.
“The more time he gets allows him to strategically evaluate other ways to perhaps sell the team, even other ways to perhaps even keep the team,” Lenkov said.
ESPN reports that, of the buyers interested in the team, a potential “super group” of owners may be in the works.
The group, which has reportedly included music mogul David Geffen, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and Oprah Winfrey, may now also include Guggenheim executives Todd Boehly and Mark Walter, Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Jobs, Steve Wynn’s ex-wife Elaine Wynn, and “Beats By Dre” co-founder Jimmy Iovine.
“It’s like the dream team,” Lenkov said. “I think it brings legitimacy, I think it will energize LA to know you have very legitimate, very reputable owners. The question is, who actually becomes the face of the franchise? You also have a lot of big money and a lot of big egos.”
Other groups to submit bids include one headed by former NBA star Grant Hill, and another with billionaire and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that may be involved, according to ESPN.
Hill’s group is reported by the Los Angeles Times to have placed a bid of $1.2 billion.