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Los Angeles - Sterling Files $1 Billion Lawsuit Against NBA, For Violating His Constitutional Rights

Published on: May 31, 2014 10:29 PM
By: Reuters
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FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald Sterling, right, during the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald Sterling, right, during the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Los Angeles - The National Basketball Association said on Friday that it has reached an agreement with the estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, opening a new chapter for the franchise after 33 years under Sterling.

Sterling, 80, was banned for life by the NBA for racist remarks in a private conversation that were recorded secretly and leaked to the media while the Clippers were playing in the NBA playoffs. The news brought shame on the league, sponsors cut ties with the team and players considered a boycott.

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Also on Friday, Sterling sued the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for at least $1 billion.

As a result of the settlement, the league canceled its Tuesday hearing to terminate Sterling’s ownership, avoiding a vote by NBA owners to consider removing one of their own.

In his lawsuit, Sterling says he was unaware he was being recorded and was caught in a jealous quarrel with a “lover.” He alleges Silver and the NBA forced him to sell the Clippers using a recording illegal under California law as evidence.

Sterling also says in the suit the NBA did not respond to his query on Friday if the hearing had been canceled following the sale of the Clippers.

NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan called Sterling’s lawsuit baseless and said Sterling did not have any recourse since his wife had sold the team. “There was no ‘forced sale’ of his team by the NBA - which means his antitrust and conversion claims are completely invalid,” Buchanan said in a statement.

Sterling’s attorney, Maxwell Blecher, said he had no comment on the NBA’s move to tentatively approve the $2 billion sale of the Clippers by Shelly Sterling to former Microsoft Corp chief executive officer Steve Ballmer.

“I have big dreams for the team. I’d love to win a championship. I’d love the Clippers to be the most dynamic, vibrant team and name in professional sports, but I’ve got a lot to learn,” Ballmer said in an interview published by The Los Angeles Times on Friday.

NBA owners still must approve the sale, but the vote is believed to be a formality because Ballmer was vetted by the NBA last year as a suitor for the Sacramento Kings.

As part of the deal between Shelly Sterling, the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers, and the NBA, she agreed not to sue the league.

Donald Sterling has listed the Sterling Family Trust as a plaintiff in his suit against the NBA which alleges breach of contract and antitrust violations among other damages.

A source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters that Shelly Sterling is now sole trustee of the family trust that controls the Clippers after physicians this month deemed that her husband has Alzheimer’s disease. Blecher did not respond to phone calls or emails seeking comment on Donald Sterling’s health. But in a statement to CNN, he said Sterling was had a “modest mental impairment” diagnosis.

In addition to damages, Sterling has asked the court to re-install his top lieutenant Andy Roesler as Clippers CEO and eliminate his $2.5 million fine. Roesler has been placed on indefinite leave and replaced by the NBA with former Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons on an interim basis.



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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 31, 2014 at 10:33 PM Anonymous Says:

He should me mazliach in his lawsuit.

2

 Jun 01, 2014 at 01:30 AM lazerx Says:

good for him and I hope he wins his law suit.

He is certainly entitled to him opinion and what they NBA and press did to him is certainly nothing less than roasting a person for having politically incorrect opinions.

3

 Jun 01, 2014 at 09:02 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

He comments hurt his partners, the other owners. He can and should be tossed out for the harm he did to them.

4

 Jun 01, 2014 at 12:44 PM fahrfrumt Says:

Reply to #3  
PaulinSaudi Says:

He comments hurt his partners, the other owners. He can and should be tossed out for the harm he did to them.

How many people canceled their season tickets because of his comments? How many fewer jerseys did they sell? Basically, can they prove that his comments hurt his partners? I doubt it.

5

 Jun 01, 2014 at 01:57 PM aaron Says:

Reply to #4  
fahrfrumt Says:

How many people canceled their season tickets because of his comments? How many fewer jerseys did they sell? Basically, can they prove that his comments hurt his partners? I doubt it.

well many players are angry, and there have been rumors that they'd consider striking if he wasn't disciplined appropriately- I'd say that would hurt his partners

6

 Jun 01, 2014 at 03:17 PM heyward Says:

He should sell the team, he needs the money for Shabbos

7

 Jun 01, 2014 at 03:48 PM charliehall Says:

Reply to #4  
fahrfrumt Says:

How many people canceled their season tickets because of his comments? How many fewer jerseys did they sell? Basically, can they prove that his comments hurt his partners? I doubt it.

Yes. The players were planning a job action that would have cancelled the playoffs. Sterling is lucky the league is letting his wife sell the team so that they can keep the money.

There are two real questions here:

1) Why did the NBA wait so long to act on Sterling's long history of bigotry?

2) Why do so many commenters on an allegedly Orthodox Jewish web site are defending a racist Jew who cheats on his wife with a non-Jewish woman who is young enough to be his granddaughter.

8

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