Judge allows $2 billion sale of NBA's Los Angeles Clippers to proceed

LOS ANGELES Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:20pm EDT

1 of 3. Shelly Sterling, 79, (C) speaks at a news conference with her lawyer Pierce O'Donnell in Los Angeles, California July 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The record $2 billion sale of pro basketball's Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer can proceed over the objections of co-owner Donald Sterling, a judge tentatively ruled on Monday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the deal, brokered by Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, was permissible and could be consummated even if Sterling, who has been banned for life from the NBA for racist remarks, chose to appeal.

"She had every good reason to believe that Donald agreed to the sale of the team," Levanas said.

The ruling was a major victory for the NBA and Shelly Sterling, who had asked the probate judge to confirm her as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers after having her 80-year-old husband removed when neurologists deemed him to have early Alzheimer's disease and was unable to handle business affairs.

Shelly Sterling, 79, cried after the ruling in the emotionally charged nine-day trial and told reporters outside the courtroom "either way we'd win. I am just doing what I had to do."

She said she believed Donald Sterling's ban from the NBA would be lifted.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling after derogatory remarks he made about black people in private to a woman friend were recorded and then published. Sterling had vowed to block the sale he initially blessed because he said his wife improperly removed him as a trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers.

The NBA, looking to close a chapter that brought shame to the basketball league and outraged fans, said it was "pleased" with the court's decision.

"We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.

The judge said his tentative ruling would take formal effect when he issues it in writing in coming weeks.

Ed McCaffery, a professor of law at University of Southern California, said Donald Sterling will likely appeal the ruling, but is highly unlikely to be able to derail the timetable of the sale.

"He can appeal as much as he likes, but the Clippers are going to be sold to Ballmer," McCaffery said.

Donald Sterling, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, has also sued the NBA, the league commissioner and his wife, contending the team was illegally taken from him.

Bradley Shear, a sports attorney, called the ruling a "complete and total" victory for Shelly Sterling, but not a surprising one, as she was extremely careful in how she used the rules of the family trust to have Sterling removed as a trustee.

(Additional reporting by Tim Reid; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Grant McCool)

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Comments (3)
AlexZ83 wrote:
(Reuters) – The record $2 billion sale of pro basketball’s Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer can proceed over the objections of co-owner Donald Sterling, a judge tentatively ruled on Monday.
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“She had every good reason to believe that Donald agreed to the sale of the team,” Levanas said.
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These two sentences are polar opposites of each other. How can Shelly Sterling possibly belive Donald has agreed to sell the team, if he hss objections??

I’m not a lawyer, but this would be the first time in the history of the US justice system, in which a rulling can not be appealed or an appeal would not have an effect. This judge must be on crack.

Jul 28, 2014 8:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
summarex wrote:
Corrupt judges should be assassinated/

Jul 28, 2014 8:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DilanStrate wrote:
AlexZ83, he initially gave his permission for her to sell the team *in writing* which was proffered to the NBA so they would know that he’d agreed to sell, and the NBA wouldn’t proceed with taking the franchise away from him. His behavior is completely consistent with someone who has dementia – the mood instability is pretty extreme in his case.

Jul 28, 2014 8:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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