L.A. Clippers Have a New Owner
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – After months of legal wrangling, the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was completed today.
In a brief statement, the NBA confirmed the deal, saying the sale was finalized “following the entry of an order by a California court confirming the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the team.
“The NBA Board of Governors previously approved the sale and Ballmer is now the Clippers Governor,” according to the league.
Attorneys for Donald Sterling had filed a petition with a state appeals court on Friday asking for an emergency order blocking the sale. The court declined to take any action, since a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas allowing Shelly Sterling to move ahead with the sale had not been finalized.
It was not immediately clear if Donald Sterling’s attorneys would go back to the appeals court in hopes of negating the deal.
On July 28, following weeks of testimony in a non-jury trial, Levanas ruled that Shelly Sterling had acted properly in removing Donald Sterling as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust that owned the team. The move came after two doctors examined Donald Sterling and determined him to be mentally incapacitated.
Sterling contended he had been duped by his wife into submitting to the medical tests as part of a plot to have him ousted from the trust so the sale could move forward.
Levanas, however, said Shelly Sterling was motivated “solely by her concerns for his well-being,” Levanas said, adding that despite the couple’s estrangement, there remains genuine affection between the pair.
There was no “secret plan to remove (Donald Sterling) from the trust,” the judge concluded.
The judge also shot down Donald Sterling’s contention that his revocation of the family trust removed his wife’s authority to sell the NBA franchise.
Sterling has also filed a separate lawsuit challenging Shelly Sterling’s right to sell the team based on corporate law.
He also has a civil rights lawsuit pending in federal court against the NBA, claiming he was being railroaded out of the league in violation of his constitutional rights.
Donald Sterling, who purchased the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million, has been under pressure to sell the team since the release of recorded conversations between him and companion V. Stiviano. In those conversations, Sterling criticized Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people and tells her not to bring them to Clippers games.
The comments earned Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA, which initiated actions to strip the Clippers from him. The league put those efforts on hold pending the decision on Shelly Sterling’s ability to sell the franchise.