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

Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:20pm EDT
 
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By Eric Kelsey

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.   Continued...

 
Shelly Sterling, 79, (C) speaks at a news conference with her lawyer Pierce O'Donnell in Los Angeles, California July 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson