Sterling trial put on hold until July 21


LOS ANGELES -- The fate of the Los Angeles Clippers ownership was delayed in court Thursday and likely won't be decided until the end of the month.

Shelly Sterling's lawyers had requested an expedited hearing so the record $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer could be approved by the NBA Board of Governors by July 15 and closed by Sept. 15, as outlined in the purchase agreement.

The delay, with Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas putting off the next hearing until July 21 with closing arguments set for July 28, resulted because two of Donald Sterling's lawyers had plans for a vacation and a wedding anniversary.

Before the trial even started, Shelly Sterling's attorneys accused Donald Sterling's attorneys of stall tactics on several occasions.

Thursday's delay, however, likely won't affect the sale of the Clippers if the judge decides Shelly Sterling was within her right to sell the team to Ballmer. There's a provision in the purchase agreement to extend the deadline another month as long as progress is being made, and Ballmer attorney Adam Streisand said he and his client were confident in the eventual result.

If the sale isn't completed by Sept. 15, the league has said it could seize the team and put it up for auction.

With Donald Sterling absent from the courtroom one day after calling his wife a "pig" following her testimony Wednesday, a calm Shelly Sterling said in testimony Thursday that her husband asked her to sell the Clippers when it became apparent the NBA was going to take control of the team and put it up for auction after a June 3 meeting at which other league owners were scheduled to vote on its future.

"I never thought he would sue me for doing something he asked me to do," Shelly Sterling said. "I never thought this would happen."

She said she flew to New York to meet with NBA commissioner Adam Silver to see whether they could negotiate an arrangement that would allow her to keep 50 percent interest in the team or perhaps a smaller percentage, while selling a controlling interest. The commissioner wasn't interested.

"If you can deliver 100 percent of the team, we can negotiate," Silver told Shelly Sterling, according to her testimony.

Despite not being able to keep a percentage of the team, Shelly Sterling said Donald Sterling was still fine with the sale as long as it took place before June 3.

"His biggest concern was to stop the sale of the team by the league," Shelly Sterling said. "He knew they were going to vote us out."

During the bidding process, Shelly Sterling said, her husband was "really nice. He was on the same page I was." She knew the fast-tracked process had to be done before the other owners convened to vote Donald Sterling out, seize the team and put it up for auction.

"My understanding was I was to have a bidding, to negotiate, the interview and to make a sale before [June 3] so [the NBA] would cancel the meeting," Shelly Sterling said.

Donald Sterling was involved in the bidding process, Shelly Sterling testified. He would ask who she interviewed and what they offered. She said she interviewed about three to five bidders at the Sterlings' Malibu home, and she spent about 12 hours interviewing the bidders.

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