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NBA owners to vote on sale of Clippers

By Tami Abdollah

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The NBA has called off a hearing to oust embattled Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling in advance of a vote on a potentially record-breaking deal negotiated by his wife Shelly Sterling to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

Shelly Sterling negotiated the deal despite objections expressed through her estranged husband Donald Sterling's attorneys. She said in a statement late Thursday that she agreed to sell the team to Ballmer "under her authority as the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers."

The NBA said in a statement Friday that the league, Shelly Sterling and The Sterling Family Trust had "resolved their dispute over the ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers."

The LA Clippers Have A New Owner At A Record-Breaking Price

"Under the agreement, the Clippers will be sold to Steve Ballmer, pending approval by the NBA Board of Governors, and the NBA will withdraw its pending charge to terminate the Sterlings' ownership of the team," it said.

But Donald Sterling is still fighting, filing suit in federal court against the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver and asking for damages in excess of $1 billion.

The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. It alleges that the league violated Sterling's constitutional rights by relying on information from an "illegal" recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend.

It also says the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and violated antitrust laws by forcing a sale.

"Mr. Sterling's lawsuit is predictable, but entirely baseless," NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan said. "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 NBA had been prepared for a lawsuit, saying in its statement that "Mrs. Sterling and the Trust also agreed not to sue the NBA and to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling."

The ownership hearing had been scheduled for next Tuesday after the NBA charged Sterling with damaging the league with his racist comments that were recorded and released. A three-quarters vote of owners to support the charge would have terminated the Sterlings' ownership, and the league would have sold the team.

Shelly Sterling reached an agreement to sell the team on Thursday night.

Donald Sterling was stripped of his ability to act as a trustee of the family's fortunes, including the Clippers, after two neurologists determined he was suffering from dementia earlier this month, according to a person close to the Sterling family.

The individual, who is familiar with the trust and the medical evaluations but wasn't authorized to speak publicly, said Sterling was deemed "mentally incapacitated" according to the trust's conditions because he showed "an inability to conduct business affairs in a reasonable and normal manner."

Donald Sterling made voluntary visits to two prominent neurologists who conducted extensive tests, including brain scans, earlier this month, the person said. Though Donald Sterling is no longer a co-trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, he still retains his 50 percent ownership and still receives proceeds from the sale, the individual said.

"There is specific language and there are protocols about what to do, and steps in order to get a sole trustee position and that's what took place in the last couple of days," the individual said.

Sterling can try to reinstate his trusteeship by appealing to the California Probate Court.

Donald Sterling's attorneys contend, however, that as a co-owner he must also give his consent for the deal to go through. They say he won't be giving it. His attorney, Bobby Samini, said "the assertion that Donald Sterling lacks mental capacity is absurd" and that he'll fight to not sell given the NBA's conduct.

But the league said the sale agreement is binding and is going ahead with the approval process for Ballmer.

Ballmer said in a statement that he is honored to have his name submitted to the NBA for approval and thanked the league for working collaboratively with him throughout the process.

Shelly Sterling negotiated the sale after Donald Sterling's remarks came to light.

Silver banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million, and said he would urge owners to force a sale, unless the Sterlings chose to sell first. And the price Ballmer paid was stunning.

"Obviously, I saw $2 billion. That gave me a reaction," said Miami Heat star LeBron James, who had been vocal in calling for both Sterlings to be out of the league. "That was a reaction for sure. But as far as everything else, I haven't quite dived into it. ... Any time a 'B' goes after a number, man, you already know that you're talking about some real money."

This is not Ballmer's first foray into potential NBA ownership. Ballmer and investor Chris Hansen headed a group that agreed to a deal to buy the Kings from the Maloof family in January 2013 with the intention of moving the team to Seattle, where the SuperSonics played until 2008.

But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson lobbied the NBA for time to put together a bid to keep the team in California, and though the Ballmer-Hansen group later increased its offer, owners voted to deny the bid for relocation and the Kings were sold to Ranadive.

Johnson, who has been advising the NBA Players Association in the wake of Sterling's comments, praised Ballmer in a series of tweets Friday night.

"When the Clips play next season, players will be proud to wear the logo on their chest & fans will be proud to cheer for their hometown team," Johnson wrote.


AP Basketball Writers Brian Mahoney and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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rg5827 May 30 2014 at 8:09 PM

if sterling was black and said things about white people nobody would have said a word double standard

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13 replies
William May 31 2014 at 12:18 AM

It's funny that they say his lawsuit is "baseless", but making him sell a team because he gave his personal private opinion is OK? I hope he makes the NBA pay dearly for this clear case of political correctness gone wild. Every bit of this was made possible by the person who taped him, then leaked the tape. Maybe it's time the NBA put recording devices in all the locker rooms if they want to see where the true racism is.

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5 replies
rjen164497 May 31 2014 at 7:25 AM

This is the biggest case of Media BULLYING ever. This man(Sterling) was first bullied by the girl and Magic (Mr. Aids)Johnson, then by TMZ the sleezebag media outlet, Then the Media in general. The man who is obviously demented has been harrassed and bullied in the name of pandering to the Black community. How will BULLYING ever be stopped when this is a lead example?

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2 replies
rreggaeredkc rjen164497 May 31 2014 at 9:47 AM

While I am no fan of Mr. Sterling's obvious prejudice, dementia is a term defining memory loss. Brain scans may show atrophy in the cerebral cortext but this can be attributed to other factors as well. Brain scans can not yet be used to identify memory loss or we would be catching onsets sooner and using medication to delay the process of memory loss. To date, brain scans are not able to show plaques that accumulate on the hippocampus, the tiny brain structure that is responsible for memory.

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1 reply
killjoy rreggaeredkc May 31 2014 at 1:20 PM

I think its cool that you claim to know more about his condition than the "two prominent neurologists who conducted extensive tests" on him and thereby "determined he was suffering from dementia". Everyone could have saved saved a lot of time and money by just having you email them a proper diagnosis of the dude. (no actual examination being necessary, of course) After all, who needs two prominent neurologists in person, when your free and far superior diagnoses are readily available by remote, here in the AOL comments section?

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Madeline rjen164497 May 31 2014 at 12:27 PM

Maybe not demented, in the trues senses. Definitely wasn't hitting on all eight cylinders when he told an obviously racially mixed person to not bring blacks to the games. Makes you cringe. Incidentally, after listening to some of the tape we have to say that the woman friend is no bimbo. She really asked him some intelligent and relevant questions. Too bad that a valid point he made was lost in the stupidity he fell into. Magic Johnson is a loved sports figure. He obviously was made for his profession. Also obviously, entirely apart from his field of expertise, he engaged in what could be called an unwise social life. The price he's paying is living with HIV. Some years back he would have paid the ultimate price of death. As such, NO ONE in that position should be held up as a role model for anyone. That was a valid point Sterling brought up that got lost in the shuffle.

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1 reply
Tonerking Madeline May 31 2014 at 3:42 PM

Madeline sweetheart, Magic is a scumbag, a looser and a woman hater. I wouldn't want him at my house, my party or with me at a game either so I am just as guilty as Sterling but then, everyone has their own ideas of what constitutes a friend that you can be proud to associate with. Magic is not one of those in Sterling's opinion and I agree.

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crusader626 May 31 2014 at 2:34 AM

Hey NBA, I canceled you...lol, I'm done with the NBA .

Flag Reply +22 rate up
5 replies
bubaxx32 May 31 2014 at 12:53 AM

screw the nba who look at that crap

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1 reply
savannahswithgod bubaxx32 May 31 2014 at 8:44 AM

Let's take it down to a lower level. The High School kids at a summer camp, stars to be you know? They was coming in and a white kid was coming out and they made a big deal about him being in there way when they walked in. Enough for me. And both parents, Black and White there eating up the way the camp was rating the kids, stars to be and the parents get to go along on the money ride. And the guy of course over the camp and pulling in Big Bucks and one year handed me a 20 dollar bill, yeh for messing up teh gym with all the garbage and have me pulling those giant bleachers out with a few people. I did get a free T-shirt too!

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andrewofkcmo May 31 2014 at 12:47 PM

Where is the outrage over talking in your own home and being
recorded without knowledge? Where is the outrage that a private
conversation was distributed Worldwide? Where is the outrage
that the establishment went beserk over slandering and defaming
and "blacklisting" that old man?

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3 replies
tlcunninghamcpa May 30 2014 at 11:36 PM

Sterling is suing Silver! LOL!! What happened to sterling silver?

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1 reply
Tonerking tlcunninghamcpa May 31 2014 at 3:46 PM

Sterling should just shove the cadaver over the rail at the next Clippers game. The cadaver is not breathing any more anyway...he's walking dead--right?

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bamy.demsjail2014 May 31 2014 at 1:17 PM


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eacret2 May 31 2014 at 12:40 PM

I hope he makes the NBA pay dearly for what that have been doing!

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julius May 31 2014 at 1:14 PM

If I would be Sterling and have his $$ I would sue NBA, Adam Silver (Sterling) and Barkley and all blacks in NBA and Opra also who used racisit slurs against whites till I die

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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