Shelly Sterling can proceed with sale


LOS ANGELES -- A judge ruled against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas sided with Sterling's estranged wife Shelly Sterling, who burst into tears when the ruling was announced.

"This is going to be a good thing for the city, for the league for my family and for all of us," she said outside the courthouse. "Come see the Clippers next year."

The judge said Shelly Sterling had negotiated a good deal for the Clippers and had the authority to remove her husband as a trustee of the trust that owns the team after two doctors determined he had signs of Alzheimer's disease and was incapable of making business decisions.

Also under the ruling, Donald Sterling can't delay the sale from going forward as he appeals the case.

"It was the best thing and the court system came through with whatever they thought was equitable and fair," Shelly Sterling said. "I didn't know which way it would go, I just tried to do the best thing for our family and for everybody else."

The ruling on Monday was tentative until the judge files it in writing.

Shelly Sterling's attorneys and Ballmer's attorney said they expect the sale of the team to close before Aug. 15. The judge's final decision is expected to come down by Aug. 13.

Donald Sterling was not in court to hear the ruling. Bobby Samini, the attorney for Donald Sterling, said he spoke to his client ten minutes after the decision was announced.

"He didn't take it too hard," Samini said. "He just said, 'Keep fighting,' " an apparent reference to pending lawsuits Sterling has filed.

When asked if she thought her husband would drop his other lawsuits Shelly Sterling said, "I'm sure he will."

Shelly Sterling negotiated the sale of the team after the 80-year-old billionaire was banned by the NBA for making offensive remarks about blacks.

Donald Sterling claimed his wife had deceived him about the medical exams.

He later revoked the trust after she negotiated the record-setting sales price and his lawyers argued that his move killed the deal. They said the case didn't belong in probate court because the trust had been dissolved.

Lawyer Pierce O'Donnell, who represents Shelly Sterling, called the ruling a "a great day for the family trust, the NBA and the entire NBA family."

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement the league was pleased by the ruling and looked forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible.

With appeals possible and other cases pending, the ruling in Los Angeles County Superior Court is unlikely to put an end to the bizarre saga that began in April when a recording surfaced of Sterling scolding his young girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games. The NBA moved quickly to ban Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million.

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