Wife testifies Sterling was happy with $2 bln Clippers sale

Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:50pm EDT
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Thursday testified that her husband was eager for her to sell the NBA team and pleased when she was able to fetch a league-record $2 billion.

Shelly Sterling, 79, told a probate court in a trial over the disputed sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer that her husband did not want the NBA to confiscate the team and sell it at auction after the league banned him for life.

"Every day we talked about what I was doing and who I had talked to," Shelly Sterling said about courting bidders, adding: "He was on the same page as I was ... He was very happy and very proud of me and said, 'Wow, you really did a good job.'"

Donald Sterling, 80, was banned by the league for racist remarks made in private that were taped and published. He has been deemed by physicians to have early Alzheimer's disease and unable to conduct his own business affairs, handing his wife control of the trust that owns the Clippers.

Shelly Sterling has asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas to confirm her as the sole trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers and to back the sale to Ballmer.

Sterling has contended that his wife and her attorneys misled him into submitting to the medical examinations and has vowed to block the sale of the pro basketball franchise.

Levanas will decide whether Shelly Sterling acted in accordance with the family trust, and if Donald Sterling's move to revoke the trust after the deal with Ballmer would invalidate the sale.

Closing arguments in the trial, which was scheduled to end on Thursday, were pushed back to July 28, ending any hope that the Clippers sale would be finalized by July 15, according to its term sheet. The next scheduled trial date is July 21.   Continued...

Shelly Sterling, 79, arrives at court in Los Angeles, California July 8, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson