Skip to main content

Possible Clippers sale snagged on technicality, but quickly unsnagged

By Linda Hall, Sara Sidner and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 12:51 AM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Donald Sterling calls the NBA a "terrible institution"
  • He claims that he runs five corporation and "knows everything"
  • His wife, Shelly, says she cried after seeing Donald Sterling's CNN interview
  • Donald calls her a "pig" as she leaves the stand

Los Angeles (CNN) -- The possible sale of the L.A. Clippers appeared to have hit a contractual snag, but it quickly got unsnagged.

Donald Sterling's lawyer is going on vacation, so the probate court deciding whether or not he gets to keep the team or his wife gets to sell it, postponed the next hearing until July 21.

That goes against a stipulation in former Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer's agreement with Shelly Sterling to buy the Clippers for $2 billion, according to a court filing.

The NBA was supposed to meet on July 15 to approve the sale, but only if the court had made a decision by then.

No NBA decision, no sale? Not so, contends Ballmer's lawyer Adam Streisand.

As long as the trial is moving forward, the sale deadline can be extended by 30 days.

Court theatrics

Donald Sterling takes the stand
Full NBA statement on Donald Sterling
Donald Sterling on Magic Johnson
NBA team owner in hot water over remarks

An angry Donald Sterling lashed out at the NBA in a court hearing Wednesday, calling the league "a terrible institution" that told lies and wrongly made him a "poster boy" for racism.

The 80-year-old billionaire and co-owner of the Clippers had taken the stand in the nonjury trial in probate court. He is battling his estranged wife Shelly Sterling over how she had him declared mentally unfit and then took over the couple's trust that owns the basketball team, which she's trying to sell for a record $2 billion.

He was animated and, at times, visibly upset -- this time under questioning from his own lawyer.

Sterling challenged the idea that he couldn't run the Clippers, insisting that "to say someone else could take over is ludicrous." He added that he still runs five corporations.

"I know everything," Sterling said.

Started with racist comments

Donald Sterling came under fire earlier this year for making racist comments to his companion V. Stiviano that appeared online; others felt he dug an even deeper hole during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper in which he disparaged basketball legend Magic Johnson and others.

On Wednesday, he blasted the NBA as "the worst corporation in America," saying he would never willingly sell the team and that he would fight the league in court as long as it takes.

"I will never, ever, ever sell this team," Sterling said. "And until I did, I will be suing the NBA."

On Tuesday, Sterling tearfully said his wife, though beautiful and intelligent, just can't run their business empire.

On the stand Wednesday, he said Shelly Sterling was pressured by the NBA to force a sale of the team.

"She was scared out of her mind," Donald Sterling said.

Shelly Sterling: "I started crying"

Later Wednesday, Shelly Sterling took the stand. She said she was moved to act -- including to get Donald Sterling evaluated by doctors, to assess his mental capacity and thus his ability to run the family trust that owns the Clippers -- after seeing his interview with Cooper.

"I couldn't believe it," she said, recalling watching that interview. "I started crying. I felt so bad. I couldn't believe it was him. I didn't know what was wrong."

Shelly Sterling said her husband didn't seem to have a problem when he was later examined by doctors.

But as she left the stand and walked toward him, Donald Sterling made his feelings loud and clear by yelling: "Get away from me, you pig." He then appeared to mutter under his breath, "Shelly, how could you lie?"

Shelly Sterling's lawyer then asked Judge Michael Levanas to have Donald Sterling removed from court. The judge didn't comply, instead asking the Clippers co-owner not to "make any statements to your wife."

Doctors say Sterling has Alzheimer's or another brain disease

Donald and Shelly Sterling were ordered by the NBA to sell the basketball franchise after Donald Sterling was heard making racial slurs against African-Americans in an audio recording.

She took over the trust in which the couple equally own the Clippers after she sent him to two physicians who certified he was mentally incapacitated.

Donald Sterling, an attorney and real estate investor, has early Alzheimer's or another brain disease, the doctors said.

But Donald Sterling and his attorneys dispute he's incapacitated.

Levanas is hearing evidence on whether Shelly Sterling acted properly when she removed her husband from the couple's trust.

The judge said he is not deciding on Donald Sterling's mental capacity. Rather, the judge is going to rule only on issues of the trust and whether its procedures were followed correctly.

Donald Sterling has said he believes the team may be worth twice the $2 billion price his wife negotiated with Ballmer, said Maxwell Blecher, another attorney for Donald Sterling.

Donald Sterling's mental capacity not issue for trial

New doctor declares Sterling mentally fit

Who is Steve Ballmer?

CNN's Linda Hal and Sara Sidner reported from Los Angeles, CNN's Greg Botelho wrote this story from Atlanta. CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Donald Sterling saga
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
The Donald Sterling saga has taken many twists and turns. Here's a primer on who some of the key players are in the controversy.
updated 6:19 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
She calls herself an artist, writer, chef, poet, stylist and philanthropist. What do we know about the woman who sat next to Donald Sterling at Clippers games?
updated 10:14 PM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
CNN's Jason Carroll takes a look at Los Angeles Clipper's owner Donald Sterling's past.
updated 10:26 AM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
The 30-page NBA document detailing the charges against Donald Sterling accuses him of trying to persuade V. Stiviano to tell a league investigator she altered a recording.
updated 5:12 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
What to know about Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO who offered $2 billion to take over the Los Angeles Clippers.
updated 9:10 PM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer became the new owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, concluding a public saga in which the league expelled one of the prior co-owners for racist comments.
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Sat June 14, 2014
Silver explains what's been going on behind the scenes in the Donald Sterling saga, plus his hopes for the NBA's future.
updated 10:31 PM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
At 6'3", he's tall enough to slam dunk, and supporters say that's exactly what Adam Silver did when he announced a $2.5 million fine and banned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life from the NBA.
updated 10:22 AM EDT, Fri May 2, 2014
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned from the NBA for life. But what of the recording itself? Was it legal to record? To leak?
updated 8:02 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
Perhaps the oddest part of Donald Sterling's interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper was the way he unloaded on Magic Johnson.
updated 7:28 AM EDT, Wed May 14, 2014
Magic Johnson has some advice for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling: Sell the team, take the money and enjoy the rest of your life.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
If Donald Sterling was trying to make amends with his public mea culpa, he didn't seem to make any friends. Let's look at what was said vs. the truth.
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Thu May 15, 2014
Donald Sterling wants a second chance. The embattled LA Clippers owner told CNN that he hopes for forgiveness from his fellow NBA owners -- and the people he has offended.
updated 7:26 PM EDT, Sun September 7, 2014
Donald Sterling isn't the only team owner to get caught up in a scandal.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT