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Donald Sterling says no deal; suit is on

By Tami Abdollah

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:52 p.m. HST, Jun 09, 2014

LOS ANGELES » Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has pulled his support from a deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and will pursue his $1 billion federal lawsuit against the NBA, his attorney said Monday.

"We have been instructed to prosecute the lawsuit," said attorney Maxwell Blecher. He said co-owner Donald Sterling would not be signing off on the deal to sell.

Donald Sterling issued a one-page statement dated Monday titled "The Team is not for Sale" and said that "from the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers."

The $2 billion sale was negotiated by his wife Shelly Sterling after Donald Sterling's racist remarks to a girlfriend were publicized and the NBA moved to oust him as owner.

The lawsuit alleges the league violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an "illegal" recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend. It also said the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale.

"I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights," Donald Sterling said. "While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled. I love the team and have dedicated 33 years of my life to the organization. I intend to fight to keep the team."

Donald Sterling had agreed to ink the deal and drop the suit last week assuming "all their differences had been resolved," his attorneys said. But individuals close to the negotiations who weren't authorized to speak publicly said he decided to not sign the papers after learning the NBA won't revoke its lifetime ban and fine.

"There was never a discussion involving the NBA in which we would modify Mr. Sterling's penalty in any way whatsoever. Any suggestion otherwise is complete fabrication," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

Shelly Sterling and her attorney Pierce O'Donnell declined to comment through representatives.

Shelly Sterling utilized her authority as sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers, to take bids for the team and ultimately negotiate a deal with Ballmer. The deal would be record-breaking if approved by the NBA's owners.

An individual familiar with the negotiations who wasn't authorized to speak publicly said Monday that there were two options for Donald Sterling — to either sign or go to court. But even if he wins in court, he's ultimately winning a judgment against himself because his wife Shelly Sterling has agreed to indemnify the NBA against all lawsuits, including by her husband, the individual said.

Donald Sterling's comments to V. Stiviano included telling her to not bring black people to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. They resulted in a storm of outrage from the public and players and even prompted President Barack Obama to comment on what he called Sterling's "incredibly offensive racist statements."

Donald Sterling said in his statement that he was "extremely sorry for the hurtful statements" he made privately but said them out of anger and jealousy and didn't intend for them to be public.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver ultimately decided to ban Donald Sterling for life, fine him millions, and began efforts to force Sterling to sell the team. Those efforts ended with Shelly Sterling's deal with Ballmer.

If this deal ultimately goes through, its terms allow Shelly Sterling to remain close to the organization by allowing for up to 10 percent of the team — or $200 million — to be spun off into a charitable foundation that she would essentially run.

Shelly Sterling and Ballmer would be co-chairs of the foundation, which would target underprivileged families, battered women, minorities and inner city youths.

Under the deal Shelly Sterling would also get the title of "owner emeritus" and be entitled to continuing perks such as floor seats, additional seats at games and parking.

One of the individuals said the deal also includes conditions that allow Ballmer to buy back the 10 percent portion of the team for a pre-designated price upon Shelly Sterling's death.

AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in Miami contributed to this report.

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droid wrote:
Donald Sterling is fighting a crusade that will ultimately destroy him. Shelly Sterling owns the team outright and as the article states, “has indemnified the NBA against all lawsuits, including by her husband.”

So even if he wins the suit, it will accomplish nothing.
on June 9,2014 | 05:01PM
whoispang wrote:
the guy is old and worth billions. He has nothing to lose. We in hawaii make racial statements all the time no big deal.
on June 9,2014 | 05:56PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
In private we are all racists. In private we are all saints. That does not mean one can be told to sell their possessions by a bunch of bullies. I believe the media plays too big a part of being judge and jury and it is because they have bigger fish to fry.
on June 9,2014 | 07:32PM
pcman wrote:
Sterling has a beef with the NBA. Just because he did wrong, that does not allow the NBA to do wrong. Basically, two wrongs do not make a right. He may lose a Billion in the sale of the team but he'll get even with the NBA. If his suit goes to court he would win the public opinion. If the NBA settles out of court the NBA would save millions.
on June 9,2014 | 09:41PM
HanabataDays wrote:
"He has nothing to lose". Actually, he needs to quit looking back over his shoulder at his yesterdays and start looking ahead -- not very far ahead -- where he very much has everything to lose.
on June 10,2014 | 12:20AM
cojef wrote:
A failing memory has strange consequences? Forget it!
on June 10,2014 | 07:57AM
nitrobreath wrote:
Donald Sterling knows what he is doing. He has money, attorneys, and team ownership on his side. He pretty much can say what he wants, when he wants and anything else is just noise.
on June 9,2014 | 06:20PM
HanabataDays wrote:
He's up against a team owners' association that has all three of those things also, in spades. Every bully gets their comeuppance.
on June 10,2014 | 12:27AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
2 billion is too much anyway for the team. He'll lose in court and probably get alot less when he is forced to sell. Dumb move, he should know when to walk away.
on June 9,2014 | 06:39PM
BuhByeAloha wrote:
He doesn't care. Money isn't the issue here. He feels he was bullied by the league (and a new commissioner trying to make a name for himself). Now he wants to do it his way.
on June 10,2014 | 06:40AM
WalkoffBalk wrote:
The guest who wouldn't leave.
on June 9,2014 | 09:49PM
jussayin wrote:
It does seem that the NBA rushed to judgement and penalty because of the outcry. Would have been interesting if Silver made his decision several days later to see if the NBA players would really not play in the playoffs. Talk is easy, action is tougher. The media is happy since they can continue to cover this story for the next months ...
on June 9,2014 | 10:01PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Wait, wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that his lawyers were excusing what he said on those tapes? "He's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he's getting kinda non compos mentis, y'know, cut him some slack." Now all of a sudden we're supposed to believe he's got a firm hand on the tiller, is in full possession of his faculties, he's competent to make billion-dollar business decisions -- and, what, we gotta cut him some slack? Not going happen, brah.
on June 10,2014 | 12:25AM
Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
I say move the team to Seattle to spite him. Of course the NBA won't do that considering the only teams of value to them are large and small market teams. Mid-sized market cities that'd support a basketball team mean nothing to them.
on June 10,2014 | 02:32AM
inHilo wrote:
Lawyers are going to make a mint in billable hours on this, no matter who wins. Not their fault some people have money to waste.
on June 10,2014 | 06:45AM
2bworker wrote:
Actually, his beef should be with his wife, who is sole trustee based on his mental evaluation results. she also cut a deal with Ballmer as a partner in a nonprofit for the team to keep her own self interests in tact with the NBA. He is fighting two fronts-NBA for his name and his wife for the property.
on June 10,2014 | 08:53AM
CriticalReader wrote:
There's a serious question here of whether Sterling's wife ACTUALLY had authority to sell the team, and whether the NBA is engaged in impropriety by handling things the way it did, using the material it did. Essentially, the NBA took its action based on sponsors flying the coop and players threatening to boycott. Were the sponsors contractually permitted to fly the coop? Were the players contractually permitted to boycott games? Was Sterling's statement something that could legally have been recorded? Or published to the world? Let's assume NOT on all. Was the NBA legally justified in using all the assumedly illegal things to punish a person, an d constructively force him to divest his ownership interest in something? What Sterling said was politically incorrect. But, not illegal. Not so much with respect to everyone else in this fiasco, it seems.
on June 10,2014 | 01:18PM
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