SATURDAY, 11:03am: Sterling has filed the suit in a Los Angeles federal court, reports Tami Abdollah of The Associated Press. Lester Munson of ESPN.com details why Sterling’s efforts are likely futile.
FRIDAY, 4:58pm: The league is confident it has the legal position necessary to ward off Sterling’s lawsuit and transfer the Clippers to Ballmer, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). That also appears to indicate the NBA would approve Ballmer as an owner, though the league has made no public statement to that effect.
4:12pm: Donald Sterling plans to file a lawsuit for $1 billion against the NBA, attorney Max Blecher tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), confirming an earlier report from Tim Stelloh of NBC News. He’s also considering a suit against wife Shelly Sterling, Blecher says to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles (Twitter link). The league is still planning a hearing on Tuesday to strip ownership of the team from the Sterling family trust in the wake of Shelly Sterling’s deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
The suit alleges an invasion of Donald Sterling’s constitutional rights, violation of anti-trust laws and breach of fiduciary duty, Blecher says in an email to Shelburne. He’s also seeking recompense for damages brought on by the NBA’s lifetime ban and the allegations the league is bringing against him as it seeks to forcibly strip him of ownership (Twitter links).
Litigation from Donald Sterling has been expected ever since the beginning of the fiasco involving his racially charged statements on a recording. Sterling reportedly agreed earlier this month to let his wife conduct a sale of the team, but he apparently changed his mind, prompting Shelly Sterling to exercise her right to exert sole power over the family trust that owns the Clippers. Donald Sterling’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s Disease earlier this month prompted neurologists to declare him mentally incapacitated, giving his wife control of the trust, as Shelburne reported.
Blecher tells Shelburne that this suit has nothing to do with the sale of the team, and says to Wojnarowski that Donald Sterling is considering separate legal action to stop the sale (Twitter links). Bobby Samini, another attorney representing Donald Sterling, told Andrea Chang of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that there could be no sale of the Clippers without Donald Sterling’s signature, in spite of Shelly Sterling’s apparent control of the family trust. Donald Sterling doesn’t intend to sell the Clippers, Samini added.