At this point, I say good luck to anyone trying to predict what Donald Sterling will do next.
After agreeing to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the shunned Los Angeles Clippers owner has changed his mind and will not be in support of the deal. Oh, and he’ll be going after the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver for $1billion, while he’s at it.
Per ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne, Sterling's attorney Max Blecher said: "The deal is off," which is quite a turnaround from a statement he made only last week (June, 4.) that his client had agreed to the terms of the sale and was dropping the lawsuit.
The reason(s) for the change of heart is still somewhat of a mystery, however, Sterling did send out a letter in which he definitively states that he intends to “fight to keep the team."
“I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights," he 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 believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers, banning me for life from the NBA and imposing the fine. Adam Silver's conduct in doing so without conducting any real investigation was wrong.”
Problem is, Shelly Sterling (Donald’s estranged wife) is the sole trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and deemed unfit to conduct his business and legal matters. She voluntarily negotiated the sale of the team and as part of the deal, agreed to indemnify the NBA from any lawsuits.
As such, if Mr Sterling wants to keep the team and still be a $1billion richer, he will have to hash it out with the missus first. That should be fun.
For those that are unfamiliar with the story, here’s a quick recap:
The L.A. Clippers owner disgraced himself by going on a race fuelled rant after former lover, Vivian Stiviano, posted a picture on Instagram posing alongside NBA Hall-of-Famer, Magic Johnson. A tape of Sterling’s outburst was later released by TMZ, to which he admitted it was his voice.
Newly appointed NBA commissioner Adam Silver came down hard, handing him a lifetime ban which prevents Sterling from taking any personnel decision making, attending Clipper games and even going anywhere near the team’s practise facilities. Plus, there is the matter of the $2.5million fine – which Sterling said he will not pay.
In came Ballmer with his billions and the sale of the L.A. Clippers appeared done and dusted after the Sterling Family Trust accepted his record $2billion offer. The two sides’ representatives signed an intent to sell agreement and the NBA approved the deal - provided the 80-year old drops his $1billion lawsuit.
Now, it seems we’re all back to square one. Nonetheless, this roller coaster ride is not over yet and it could get pretty messy. Stay tuned folks.