A Los Angeles County probate judge has ordered a four-day trial, from July 7-10, to decide whether banned owner Donald Sterling was properly removed from the Sterling Family Trust, ESPN learned Wednesday.
The Sterling Family Trust agreed to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on May 29 for a record $2 billion. Just last week, Sterling approved of wife Shelly Sterling’s sale of the franchise to Ballmer, but had a change of heart on Tuesday, deciding to not only follow through on his $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA, but also fight the sale of the Clippers.
In a scathing statement released Tuesday, Sterling blasted the NBA and league commissioner Adam Silver, vowing, “We have to fight for the rights of all Americans. We have to fight these despicable monsters. THIS IS THE REASON I WILL NOT SELL MY TEAM.”
After Sterling was deemed mentally incapacitated by doctors and unable to conduct his own legal and business affairs, Shelly's lawyers assumed the role of sole trustee and negotiated the sale of the Clippers to Ballmer. Shelly has requested an expedited hearing so that the sale can be approved by the NBA Board of Governors by July 15 and closed by September 15, ESPN reported. If the sale isn’t closed by September 15, Ballmer could pull out of the deal, and the NBA would be forced to restart its termination proceedings against Sterling all over again.
During halftime of Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, Silver commented that “this is really now a dispute between the Sterlings.” Silver banned Sterling for life and slapped him with a league-max $2.5 million fine in late April following a released recording in which the shamed owner made racist remarks against African-Americans.
Dr. James E. Spar, from UCLA, said he believes "Mr. Sterling is at risk of making potentially serious errors of judgment, impulse control and recall in the management of his finances and his trust.'' Another doctor also told ESPN that Sterling has “mild atrophy” of brain tissue.
It’s likely that findings like these will be in play during the four-day July trial to decide Sterling’s role.
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(Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)