According to Sports Illustrated on May 30, Donald Sterling, the embattled former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, will sue the NBA for damages in excess of $1 billion dollars. According to Max Blecher, Sterling’s attorney, the charges include “an invasion of Sterling’s constitutional rights, violation of anti-trust laws and breach of fiduciary duty associated with the NBA’s lifetime ban and termination charges.”
Earlier this month, Donald Sterling was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This effectively removed him from the Sterling Family Trust and left control with wife Shelly Sterling. Shelly signed a $2 billion agreement to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
According to TMZ, Donald Sterling was officially declared “incompetent to have a voice in the sale” of the Clippers. TMZ added, “We’re told earlier this month Donald agreed to an examination by two prominent neurologists. He underwent extensive tests, including a CT and PET scan. We’re told both doctors diagnosed Donald with Alzheimer’s and concluded he may have had the disease for as long as 5 years. The doctors both concluded he did not have the ability to conduct the business of the team.”
According to the terms of the Sterling Trust, Donald or Shelly can be removed if a medical expert declares them mentally unfit. The Alzheimer’s diagnosis removed Donald from anything to do with the trust. Max Blecher, Donald’s attorney, strongly denies the reports, claiming that Donald is “far from mentally incompetent.”
Donald Sterling has taken actions that have “damaged and continue to damage the NBA and its teams,” per the NBA. Sterling was secretly taped by his girlfriend while making derogatory and racist remarks about African-Americans and minorities, including directing the girlfriend not to associate publicly with African-Americans and not to bring them to Clippers games.
The NBA was quick to issue a huge fine and ban Sterling from the game. They then initiated an action to force him to sell the team. That duty eventually fell to wife Shelly and resulted in yesterday’s sale.
What will come of Donald Sterling’s lawsuit is anybody’s guess. Attorneys who have commented on the case say that the NBA franchise agreement Sterling signed is ironclad and unbeatable. And now that Sterling is 80 and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the outcome could be a very long time in coming. In any event, the Los Angeles Clippers will belong to Steve Ballmer, not Donald Sterling.