Shelly Sterling talks about husband, Clippers sale

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Shelly Sterling talks about husband, Clippers sale
Shelly Sterling is congratulated outside the courthouse in Los Angeles on July 28, 2014 after a ruling was made in the case between her and her husband Donald over the sale of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. A California judge gave the go-ahead to the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, ruling that embattled owner Donald Sterling could not block the move. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Shelly Sterling steps to the podium to respond to questions from the media outside the courthouse in Los Angeles on July 28, 2014 after a ruling was made in the case between her and her husband Donald over the sale of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. A California judge gave the go-ahead to the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, ruling that embattled owner Donald Sterling could not block the move. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Shelly Sterling reacts while facing the media outside the courthouse in Los Angeles on July 28, 2014 after a ruling was made in the case between her and her husband Donald over the sale of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. A California judge gave the go-ahead to the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, ruling that embattled owner Donald Sterling could not block the move. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Shelly Sterling reacts while facing the media outside the courthouse in Los Angeles on July 28, 2014 after a ruling was made in the case between her and her husband Donald over the sale of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. A California judge gave the go-ahead to the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, ruling that embattled owner Donald Sterling could not block the move. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Shelly Sterling reacts to questions while meeting with the media outside the courthouse in Los Angeles on July 28, 2014 after a ruling was made in the case between her and her husband Donald over the sale of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. A California judge on Monday gave the go-ahead to the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, ruling that embattled owner Donald Sterling could not block the move. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
With her attorney Pierce O'Donnell, right, Shelly Sterling, center, talks to reporters after a judge ruled in her favor and against her estranged husband, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the NBA basketball team, outside Los Angeles Superior Court, Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 30: Steve Ballmer (L) and Eric Garcetti attend Game Six of the Western Conference Final during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and his wife Rochelle watch the Clippers play the Detroit Pistons during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010, in Los Angeles. The Pistons won 113-107.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers Interim CEO Dick Parsons speaks at a press conference on May 12, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Clippers owner Donald Sterling has offered his first public apology for racist remarks that saw him banned for life from the NBA. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, arrives at a Los Angeles courthouse with her attorney Pierce O' Donnell, Monday, July 7, 2014. With the potentially record-breaking $2 billion sale of the Clippers hanging in the balance, a trial beginning Monday will focus on Shelly Sterling had the authority under terms of a family trust to unilaterally negotiate the deal. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, arrives at a Los Angeles courthouse with her attorney Pierce O' Donnell, Monday, July 7, 2014. With the potentially record-breaking $2 billion sale of the Clippers hanging in the balance, a trial beginning Monday will focus on Shelly Sterling had the authority under terms of a family trust to unilaterally negotiate the deal. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 7: Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, left and his wife Shelly pose for a photograph before his team played the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 7, 2012 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 2012 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer takes in a Clippers playoff game with NBA commissioner Adam Silver in May. Ballmer has reportedly agreed to purchase the Clippers for $2 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: David Geffen attends the Los Angeles Lakers vs Los Angeles Clippers game on October 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 24: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison watches the Los Angeles Clippers face the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena on April 24, 2014 in Oakland, 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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)
A Los Angeles Clippers fan holds up a t-shirt cursing the team's owner Donald Sterling durring game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on May 15, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, in their NBA playoffs round two series in which the Thunder defeated the Clippers 104-98 to win the series by four games to two. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Rochelle Sterling attends an NBA playoff game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Rochelle Sterling (L) and Pierce O'Donnell attend an NBA playoff game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 27: Shelly Sterling (C), the wife of Donald Sterling owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, watches the Clippers against the Golden State Warriors in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 27, 2014 in Oakland, California. The players wore theirs warm up this way in protest of owner Donald Sterling's racially insensitive remarks. 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 Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Rochelle Sterling attends an NBA playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 29, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
Shelly Sterling (R), wife of embattled owner of Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, watches Game 3 of the Clippers second round NBA playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on May 9, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media regarding the investigation involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on April 29, 2014 at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addresses the media about the investigation involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and accusations that he made racist remarks to a girlfriend. Sterling, a billionaire, will be banned for life in the NBA. Sterling has a controversial history in racially charged Los Angles with previous accusations of racism tempered by philanthropic work in inner city neighborhoods.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and former Los Angeles Lakers player Norm Nixon addresses the media during the press conference in response to the NBA's decision to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life.
Former Los Angeles Lakers player A. C. Green and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar address the media during the press conference in response to the NBA's decision on Donald Sterling.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media regarding the investigation involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Director and actor Spike Lee watches as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addresses the media about the investigation involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Spike Lee attends the press conference as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discusses punishment for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The Clippers wear their warmup jerseys inside-out prior to Game 3 of their playoff series against the Warriors in protest of owner Donald Sterling.
DALLAS, TX - APRIL 28: Members of the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs wear black socks in protest of comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Earvin 'Magic' Johnson Jr speaks at a press conference on student scholarships in Indiana on April 28, 2014 in Gary, Indiana. The NBA Hall of Famer held the press conference to promote a benefit to raise money for student scholarships in Gary. During the press conference Johnson also answered questions in regard to comments made by Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, April 21, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling watches his team play in Los Angeles.
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LOS ANGELES (AP) - When Shelly Sterling was approached by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about buying the Los Angeles Clippers, the wife of disgraced team owner Donald Sterling did not know who Ballmer was. But in short order she convinced him that the team was worth an unprecedented $2 billion.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Shelly Sterling offered details of how she negotiated one of the richest deals in sports after her husband's racist rant to a girlfriend became public, prompting the NBA to ban him for life and decree he give up the team.

At that point, Shelly Sterling stepped in.

AP Exclusive: Shelly Sterling on Clippers Sale

"I was given the task and I did it," she said Thursday. "I just did what I had to do."

Prospective buyers started lining up when Ballmer entered the scene. She already had a bid of $1.65 billion from David Geffen and an Egyptian princess was entering the bidding war.

Ballmer called her at 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

"He was really enthusiastic," she recalled. "He said I want to come see you immediately."

She put him off until the next day and quickly called a girlfriend to find out who this man was.

"He was a like a little child. He was so excited, so happy," she said of their meeting. "We sort of connected. I felt he would be good for the team."

She said he asked her how much others had offered and then bid $1.9 billion. But she was not through negotiating.

"I told him: 'You won't have to build an arena or a practice field.' So he was getting a bargain. And I told him, 'We have great players, a great coach and you'll never have the chance to buy a team in Los Angeles again."

After her speech, she recalled "He said, 'O.K. I'll give you two (billion).' He really really wanted the team."

She said she extracted a promise that he would never move the team to Seattle, his home town. The deal closed after a bitter probate fight with her husband.

Ballmer gave Shelly Sterling the title, owner emeritus and said she would have floor tickets for all games.

In a wide ranging interview just days before her 80th birthday, the elegant, blond wife of the beleaguered businessman exuded energy and enthusiasm of a much younger woman. For a half century she had worked in Donald's shadow , renovating and decorating their properties while he built a real estate empire.

"I never liked the spotlight. I didn't like to get up and speak," she said. "But you don't know your potential until you're thrown into something."

She was thrown into the center of a publicity maelstrom with the release of explosive audio tapes of her husband denouncing his young girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games.

She declined discuss details about her legal battle with V. Stiviano, the woman who released the tapes.

"I think it was very unfortunate that she would have done what she did," Sterling said.

In her new role, Shelly Sterling signed up well known litigator Pierce O'Donnell. He asked her how much she wanted for the team and she handed him a piece of paper on which was written, "$1.5 to $2 (billion)."

Once Ballmer's offer was accepted the drama moved to probate court. Sterling had removed her husband from the family trust saying he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Doctors testified but he insisted he was in full control of his faculties. When she tried to approach him in court he growled, "Get away from me, you pig."

It was a painful moment in a 59-year marriage and she said he has since apologized. She blames his illness.

The marriage has had rough patches, she said, and they have been estranged since the death of their diabetic son from a drug overdose last year.

She remembered their high school romance when "he crashed my 16th birthday party," and the years they spent building a real estate empire with 160 apartment buildings in Los Angeles.

Asked if she knew her husband was unfaithful to her over the years, she said: "I can't say if I was blind to it or I didn't know to ask. I was raising my three kids and I was very involved in taking care of the buildings... There were always excuses that he was working with one girl or another. Maybe I didn't want to realize it. "

She considered divorcing Donald but was told by lawyers: "It was of no benefit."

"What's the point at our age?" she said. "I still feel sorry for him. I think he's going to make it right and he'll be OK. "

These days, she said, "We're on better terms. We try not to talk about the case. We have a business together so we have to talk."

Asked about his mental condition, she said, "He's been a little better, a little sweeter and softer. Losing the team he loved was very hard on him," she said. "But I'll always feel it's our team."

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