The NBA Friday approved the agreement between Steve Ballmer and the Sterling family trust, meaning the $2 billion sale of the Clippers precluded the need for the league’s owners to vote Tuesday to strip him of the team. That didn’t stop Donald Sterling from filing a$1 billion suit Friday, seeking damages.
An NBA statement said Shelly Sterling and the trust “also agreed not to sue the NBA and to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling.”
The NBA charged Donald Sterling with damaging the league by making racist comments. The league believed its constitution gave the power to league owners to terminate his ownership — as well as that of his wife, Shelly.
With that, the statement saidl “the NBA will withdraw its pending charge to terminate the Sterlings’ ownership of the team. The NBA Board of Governors still must approve the move, but that is considered a formality.
Relative to other transactions, the league moved with stunning swiftness. It wanted Sterlings to be gone from the sports nation’s consciousness by the start of the NBA Finals Thursday. Ballmer’s single-source offer of all cash that was nearly four times the amount of the highest previous franchise sale made things easy for Commissioner Adam Silver, who likely has a new BFF in the retired Seattle software baron.
Separately, Donald Sterling filed an antitrust suit suit Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The league responded later Friday.
“Mr. Sterling’s lawsuit is predictable, but entirely baseless,” NBA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Rick Buchanan told ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell. “Among other infirmities, there was no ‘forced sale’ of his team by the NBA — which means his antitrust and conversion claims are completely invalid. Since it was his wife Shelly Sterling, and not the NBA, that has entered into an agreement to sell the Clippers, Mr. Sterling is complaining about a set of facts that doesn’t even exist.”
Since the agreement between the NBA and Sterling trust was announced after the lawsuit was filed in court, Donald Sterling’s attorney, Max Blecher, said he needed to review all the new information before proceeding.
“We gotta sit down and see how all of this affects us,” Blecher told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “We have to think through the whole situation . . . She’s saying if you sue us, we’ll have to pay out of our own money. It’s like suing themselves. We have to see whether the law allows to happen.”