The trial to determine the fate of the Los Angeles Clippers began Monday afternoon. Donald Sterling, shunned Clippers owner, is suing his estranged wife, Rochelle Sterling, to determine whether or not she legally removed him from the trust so that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can buy the team for a record $2 billion.
The NBA banned Sterling, 80, for life earlier this year after being recorded making racist statements to his girlfriend at the time. This May it was allegedly determined by two doctors that Sterling had Alzheimer’s disease allowing his wife to legally take his name off of the trust that owns the Clippers. Sterling claims that his wife tricked him into undergoing brain scans and exams.
“If the judge decides that the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is thrown out…then you get back into the mix with the NBA,” says Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke. “They’ve barred him from life but they haven’t had to do things like go to an owner’s vote to kick him out of the league, to force the sale and let me tell you the NBA owners do not want to make that judgment.”
The longer the deal waits, says Macke, the longer the $2 billion Steve Ballmer has offered looks aggressively high on the bid side. “They’ve created the perfect frenzy for getting a high number, remember the Clippers were worth somewhere to the south of $600 million as of January.” Part of the money, says Macke, was in order to get the deal through.
Donald Sterling bought the L.A. Clippers for $12.5 million in 1981.