Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling’s wife, has announced that the Los Angeles Clippers have been sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. But despite the announcement, the sale may be far from done and there is still a chance it will never happen at all.
The biggest problem for Shelly Sterling and Ballmer is that Donald Sterling is still the owner of the Clippers and he has vowed to fight the sale of the team “to the bloody end” even though he previously sent a letter to the NBA giving his wife authority to sell the team.
Donald Sterling’s lawyer Max Blecher says that letter was sent when his client was in a “state of shock” according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. However, Blecher says his client has changed since and is now more like the “Don [he] knew.“
In another twist, Shelburne has reported that Shelly Sterling became the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust after Donald Sterling was determined to be “mentally incapacitated” by experts.
In the statement announcing the sale, Shelly Sterling declared that the family trust has sold the team and that she is acting as the sole trustee in making the sale. Donald Sterling is never mentioned.
According to Shelburne, the family trust had rules and guidelines in place about mental incapacitation.
A reporter for the L.A. Times spoke with Bobby Samini, another one of Donald Sterling’s lawyers, who also suggested his client will challenge the legality of the sale. “There’s been no sale,” Samini repeatedly said to the reporter. “There can be no sale without Donald’s signature.”
Samini added that the money is not important to Donald Sterling. “He doesn’t need the money,” Samini said. “He’s not looking at it from that standpoint. He’s looking at it from the standpoint of he doesn’t want to sell.”
The NBA still has to approve the sale. However, the normally months-long process could be fast-tracked with Ballmer as he was previously vetted by the league when he attempted to purchase the Sacramento Kings.
The swiftness of the NBA throughout this process has constantly forced Donald Sterling to react rather than control the issue. But while Shelly Sterling, Ballmer, and the NBA are moving forward as if this is a done deal, it won’t be if Donald Sterling lives up to his promise to fight.
Shelly Sterling and Steve Ballmer say they are prepared if Donald Sterling fights a legal challenge.
All involved in sale to Ballmer are prepared for a legal challenge from Donald, sources said, but believe they will ultimately prevail
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
One possibility hinted at by Blecher, is that Donald Sterling could argue that he was only temporarily incapacitated due to the stress of the initial charges levied by the NBA and that he is better now.
If that happens, the team will still be his until a judge rules otherwise.
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