Donald Sterling Sues Wife, NBA in Fight Over Clippers

Donald Sterling filed a new lawsuit against his wife and the National Basketball Association over the proposed $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

Sterling alleges in a complaint filed today that he’s the sole shareholder of LAC Basketball Club Inc., the corporation that owns the Clippers, and that his wife can’t sell the team to Ballmer without his consent. He asked for a judge to “freeze” the sale as well as for unspecified damages.

Shelly Sterling’s “deliberate collaboration and collusion with the NBA, Commissioner Adam Silver, and Steve Ballmer was extreme and outrageous conduct,” the real-estate billionaire said in the complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lawsuit comes as a probate judge is holding a trial over whether Shelly Sterling can complete the sale to Ballmer. She used the reports of two doctors who in May found her husband mentally incapacitated to have him removed as co-trustee of the family trust and to make a deal with Ballmer before the NBA could proceed with a forced sale of the team.

The NBA fined Sterling $2.5 million and banned him for life after in April posted secretly recorded conversations in which he told a girlfriend that he didn’t want her to bring black people to Clippers games or post photos online of herself with former NBA All-Star Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Antitrust Lawsuit

Sterling last month filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court to block the sale. That case was premised on the league seizing the team and selling it, not on the voluntary sale agreement Shelly Sterling concluded with Ballmer. The NBA has said if the sale to Ballmer isn’t completed by Sept. 15, it may resume with a forced sale.

Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman, declined to comment on today’s lawsuit. Pierce O’Donnell, a lawyer for Shelly Sterling, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on it.

In the complaint, Sterling argues that he holds sole title to the team even if it was part of the family trust. He revoked the trust last month after his wife filed a petition in probate court to confirm her authority to complete the sale.

Sterling testified in the probate case that he would never sell the team he bought in 1981 and that he would sue the NBA until the day he dies.

The case is Sterling v. Sterling, BC552470, Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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