LOS ANGELES – Shelly Sterling’s attorney will be in probate court today to seek an emergency order for a hearing so a judge can confirm her authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, according to an individual familiar with the matter.
The individual was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Shelly Sterling brokered what would be a record-breaking $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to sell the team after her husband and co-owner Donald Sterling made racist comments to a girlfriend that were recorded and publicized. The NBA moved swiftly to oust him as an owner.
But Sterling has vowed not to sell and is suing the NBA for $1 billion. He said in a statement released by his attorney Tuesday that he’s fighting for the fundamental rights of Americans against the NBA, which he calls a band of hypocrites and bullies and despicable monsters.
His statement is titled in caps and underlined: WHY I AM FIGHTING THE NBA? THE NBA WANTS TO TAKE AWAY OUR PRIVACY RIGHTS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
Shelly Sterling contends she is the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the team. Donald Sterling was stripped as co-trustee after two neurologists last month determined he was suffering from dementia and mentally incapacitated under the trust’s conditions, according to a person who is familiar with the trust and the medical evaluations but could not speak publicly.
The aim of Shelly Sterling’s court bid is to have a judge confirm provisions of the family trust to ensure the Ballmer sale moves forward without a hitch.
Donald Sterling’s attorney Maxwell Blecher said a representative for Sterling will likely be at any hearing but declined to comment further Tuesday. Sterling’s attorneys have called the idea that he is mentally incapacitated absurd.
Representatives for Shelly Sterling and Pierce O’Donnell declined to comment.
On Monday, Donald Sterling pulled his support from the Ballmer deal and issued a one-page statement titled The Team is not for Sale.
He instructed his attorneys to prosecute the lawsuit against the NBA that alleges the league violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an illegal recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend. It also said the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale.
I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights, Donald Sterling said. While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled.
Donald Sterling had agreed to sign the deal and drop the suit last week assuming all their differences had been resolved, his attorneys said. But individuals close to the negotiations said he decided to not sign the papers after learning the NBA won’t revoke its lifetime ban and fine.