Clippers Owner Sterling Files Suit Against NBA For $1B
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $1 billion in damages from the National Basketball Association, according to his lawyer Max Blecher.
CBS News is also reporting that a source close to Shelly Sterling claims she now has sole control of the Los Angeles Clippers because her estranged husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after being evaluated by two neurologists earlier this month. However, the source has not provided proof of that.
Earlier, Blecher told CBS News he had “no court order declaring Mr. Sterling mentally incompetent.”
Shelly Sterling announced late Thursday night that she’d signed a binding contract for a sale of the Clippers by The Sterling Family Trust to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record-breaking $2 billion.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass says that the owners’ advisory/finance committee discussed the sale during a Friday conference call.
It must be approved by the NBA before it can go forward and would require Donald Sterling’s signature as 50 percent owner, but a statement released by Shelly Sterling’s representatives stated she acted “under her authority as the sole trustee of the Sterling Family Trust.”
With the sale pending, the NBA has canceled the meeting that was set for June 3 in New York City with the NBA Board of Governors and will withdraw its pending charge to terminate Sterling’s ownership of the team, according to a statement released by the NBA.
The statement also said Shelly Sterling and the Trust have agreed to not sue the NBA and to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling.
Just hours after the suit was filed, the NBA released another statement saying the lawsuit was predictable, but “entirely baseless,” said special NBA counsel Rich Buchanan. “Among other infirmities, there was no “forced sale” of his team by the NBA – which means his antitrust and conversion claims are completely invalid. Since it was his wife Shelly Sterling, and not the NBA, that has entered into an agreement to sell the Clippers, Mr. Sterling is complaining about a set of facts that doesn’t even exist.”
The league has been working to force a sale of the team since Commissioner Adam Silver slapped Donald Sterling with a lifetime ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine after an audiotape of the 80-year-old billionaire delivering a racist rant was made public. In the taped conversation, Sterling chastised his companion, V. Stiviano, for appearing in photographs with black people and told her not to bring black people to Clippers games.
Sterling has apologized for his comments but said he was “baited” into making them.
The league also plans to hold a hearing Tuesday in New York to consider charges against Sterling for damaging the league with his racist comments. Owners could then vote to terminate ownership for both Donald and Shelly Sterling.
Sterling, who bought the team in 1981 for $12.5 million, had earlier authorized his wife to negotiate the sale of the franchise, but another Sterling attorney, Bobby Samini, said he is “not selling the team. That’s his position. He’s not going to sell.”
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