Judge OKs record-setting $2B sale of Clippers

By BRIAN MELLEY Published: July 28, 2014
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge ruled against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

In the tentative ruling, Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas sided with Sterling’s estranged wife Shelly Sterling, who burst into tears when the ruling was announced.

“I can’t believe it’s over. I feel good,” she said.

Shelly Sterling negotiated the sale of the team after the 80-year-old billionaire was banned by the NBA for making offensive remarks about blacks.

She sought approval from a probate judge for the deal she struck after removing her husband from the trust that owned the team when doctors found he had signs of Alzheimer’s disease and couldn’t manage his affairs.

Donald Sterling claimed his wife deceived him about the medical exams.

He later revoked the trust after she negotiated the record-setting sales price and his lawyers argued that the move killed the deal. They said the case didn’t belong in probate court because the trust had been dissolved.

The ruling in Los Angeles County Superior Court is unlikely to put an end to the bizarre saga that began in April when a recording surfaced of Sterling scolding his young girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games. The NBA moved quickly to ban Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million.

Sterling was apologetic after the audio recording went viral, but his mea culpa backfired when he criticized Lakers great Magic Johnson, who had been photographed with Sterling’s girlfriend, as a bad role model for kids because he had HIV. Sterling was roundly criticized from locker rooms to the Oval Office, where President Barack Obama called Sterling’s remarks “incredibly offensive racist statements.”

With the NBA threatening to seize the team and auction it, Sterling initially gave his wife of 58 years permission to negotiate a sale but then refused to sign it. He said he would sue the league instead and then revoked the trust.

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