Steve Ballmer's purchase of Clippers closes

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Steve Ballmer's purchase of Clippers closes
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, right, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to his Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owners Donald Sterling and his wife Rochelle Stein watch the Clippers play the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of their NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
File - In this Dec. 30, 2011, file photo, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, watches the Chicaco Bulls play the Los Angeles Clippers along with Clippers owners Rochelle Sterling, center, and Donald Sterling during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. If Donald Sterling is compelled to sell the Clippers, the list of potential buyers will have more stars than the team's roster. Mayweather Jr. wants to form a group to buy the team. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011, file photo, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling gestures while watching the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles. Sterling only dug himself into a deeper hole after slamming Magic Johnson when he was supposed to be atoning for his own racist remarks. But he's not the first celebrity to learn the perils of making a non-apology apology. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2010, file photo, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is intent on moving quickly in dealing with the racially charged scandal surrounding Clippers owner Sterling. The NBA league will discuss its investigation Tuesday, April 29, 2014, before the Clippers play Golden State in Game 5 of their playoff series. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling looks on during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald Sterling, right, during the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles. An individual with knowledge of negotiations to sell the Clippers says Shelly Sterling has reached an agreement to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. The individual, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press on Thursday, May 29, 2014, that Ballmer and the Sterling Family Trust now have a binding agreement. The deal now must be presented to the NBA. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling closes his eyes as he watches the Clippers play the Utah Jazz during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, upper right, watches the Golden State Warriors play the Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 10, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, right, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to his Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: NBA Basketball player Chris Paul (R) Los Angeles Clippers introduces U.S. President Barack Obama at the Walker Jones Education Campus, on July 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama spoke to area youth about My Brothers Keeper Initiative during a town hall meeting. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers stands on the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 and J.J. Redick #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers dribbles the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots a foul shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 13: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers loses possesion of the ball to Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the final seconds in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 13, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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BY LINDA DEUTSCH

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- An appellate court caught in an extraordinary legal snafu refused Friday to consider Donald Sterling's request to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer but said he could file it again.

In a purely procedural move, Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas withdrew his final statement of decision in the probate case between Sterling and his estranged wife Shelly Sterling over the impending sale of the team.

"The petition is denied without prejudice to re-filing at the appropriate time in that presently there is nothing for this court to review," said the three-judge appellate panel in a ruling issued late Friday.

The reason was a series of miscommunications between the judge and the lawyers for Donald Sterling who had asked on Thursday for more time to file objections to his ruling. Having heard no response by noon Friday, they filed their request for a writ of mandate overturning the judge's decision. But three hours later, Levanas withdrew his decision and gave them until next Wednesday to file their objections, said Stephen Smith, a member of Shelly Sterling's legal team.

The end result is that Friday's events were a dress rehearsal for a legal drama likely to be concluded next week. Donald Sterling's lawyers will file their objections. The judge will write his final statement of decision with or without changes and the lawyers will then go to the appellate court, Smith said.

He acknowledged it was all quite confusing. "This case certainly has a lot of moving parts," Smith said.

Earlier, when Donald Sterling's writ request was filed, Ballmer's lawyer quickly denounced the move.

Lawyers for Sterling had asked the Second District Court of Appeal to stay Levanas' ruling that cleared the way for the sale. They said the judge prematurely finalized his ruling so the sale can be completed without a chance to appeal.

Sterling's appellate lawyers said in their request for a writ of mandate that if the sale goes through, "Donald will have lost a unique and irretrievable asset: a `trophy asset' coveted by high net worth individuals around the world - one of thirty NBA franchises in the country, and one that under Donald's thirty-year ownership has recently become one of the most successful."

The main complaint of the appellants is the judge's decision to allow the sale to go forward with no time for an appeal. He used a section of law that bars a stay of his decision. Given that provision, it was unclear if the appeal would have any effect. The sale could conceivably go forward while the appeal makes its way through the courts.

Adam Streisand, the attorney for Ballmer, said in a statement: "We won this trial because Donald Sterling is on an egotistical crusade to destroy the Clippers if he can't keep the team, and he can't. We will win the appeal for the very same reason."

A spokesman for the attorneys representing Shelly Sterling issued a statement similarly attacking Donald Sterling's motives.

"Donald's petition for writ of mandate is another desperate act by a desperate man," the statement said. "The decision by Judge ... Levanas - after three weeks of trial - is a correct decision on the law and the undisputed evidence. Donald will do anything to kill the record-shattering $2B sale of the Clippers. His petition is frivolous."

The appellate lawyers who filed the writ petition late Friday afternoon acknowledged that Donald Sterling has a public image problem.

"Admittedly, in light of recent events, Donald Sterling does not cut a sympathetic figure," his appellate lawyers wrote. "But the issues raised by the trial court's decision here impact more than just him, and involve core issues of probate law and the right to appellate review."

Shelly Sterling negotiated the record sale after the NBA banned the 80-year-old billionaire for making offensive remarks about blacks.

"The nature of the trial court's order all but guarantees that this court will never review this matter by appeal," the lawyers said. "lf the sale of the Clippers is not stayed, the team is likely to be sold before any appeal could be brought or decided, rendering Donald's appeal rights hollow. This is a textbook example of irreparable harm, and cries out for writ relief."

The writ filed by the Donald Sterling legal team demanded an immediate stay of the judge's ruling. It said that in the absence of a stay, the sale could go forward immediately. It noted that the NBA plans to meet on Aug. 15 to approve the sale.

Addressing the ruling by Levanas, the document said his action "was unreasonable, arbitrary, a prejudicial abuse of discretion, and manifestly against the law."

The 39-page filing challenged the opinions of two doctors who examined Donald Sterling and who said he had the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease, rendering him incompetent to handle his own business affairs.

The filing said the examinations were "insufficient to support a determination of incapacity" and said Shelly Sterling improperly removed her estranged husband as a trustee of the Sterling family trust.

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