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Shelly Sterling will go to court to resolve dispute

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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The mental state of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is becoming the central issue in the proposed sale of the team.

Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, and her attorneys plan to seek an emergency order from a California probate court on Wednesday to have a hearing to resolve the dispute with Donald Sterling, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Shelly Sterling sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on May 29 without her estranged husband’s consent. Neurologists reportedly determined Donald Sterling was mentally unfit to conduct his legal and business affairs.

Donald Sterling initially agreed to allow his wife to sell the franchise to Ballmer, but then, on Monday, he issued a letter stating that he would not support the sale of the Clippers

“I intend to fight to keep the Team,” he said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by

The guidelines of the Sterling Family Trust, which technically owns the Clippers, did not require a court order to make a designation that Donald Sterling was unfit to make business decisions. However, after Donald Sterling noted his intention to fight the sale, Shelly Sterling and her lawyers said they would seek a court order regarding Donald Sterling’s incompetency.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, interviewed by ESPN on Tuesday during halftime of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, said the league must wait out the Sterlings’ dispute before the issue can be resolved.

“The next step for the league is to, frankly, stand back and allow this dispute between Donald and Shelly Sterling to play itself out,” he said.

Max Blecher, Donald Sterling’s lawyer, offered an explanation to as to why Donald Sterling changed his mind about allowing the sale of the team.

“Two things happened,” Blecher said. “(Shelly) decided to go for the mental incompetency to get rid of him. I think that ticked him off. And the frosting on the cupcake was Silver saying he was never going to repudiate the ban or the fines. I think Sterling looking at this like, ‘There’s no dignity for me. I might as well fight.’

“If the league had reached out to him and said, ‘Let’s work something out, we can restore your dignity,’ I think it’s possible he would have changed his mind. But they didn’t … so he decided it wasn’t worth doing the sale. He doesn’t need the money. He wanted to fight for his dignity.”

Blecher also told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer regarding Donald Sterling, who is 80, “It strikes me as totally incredible to argue that this man — I talk to him every day — is incapable of making decisions and is mentally incompetent, And I don’t believe any court is going to make a finding to the contrary.”

On Tuesday, Donald Sterling expanded on the reason he plans to sue the NBA and Silver, who announced that Sterling was banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million.

Besides saying that his right to privacy and right to freedom of speech were violated, Sterling said, “I also feel that the leadership of the NBA is incompetent, inexperienced and angry. It is clear that they took this opportunity to settle the personal grievances they have harbored against me for years.

“The NBA has a history of discriminatory practices which is supported by the numerous lawsuits filed by NBA employees claiming gender based discrimination. Adam Silver has worked for the NBA since 1992. He must know about the discriminatory practices of the NBA which are all matters of public record. The reason Adam Silver is focused on the sale, instead the larger social issue, is because doing so would require him to examine the NBA’s own discriminatory practices, including those that occurred under his many years in leadership. …

“(Silver is) focusing his energy on violating my rights, attempting to take my property, and signing autographs for TMZ.”

Silver responded by saying, “I have no idea what he is talking about.”

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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