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Sterling appears set on taking Clippers down with him

Sterling files another lawsuit against wife, NBA
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Donald Sterling is fighting a longshot battle to keep the Los Angeles Clippers. But even if he ultimately fails to keep the Clippers, his lawsuits over their sale to Steve Ballmer could cause a lot of collateral damage to the team. Yet despite testimony on July 22 alleging that coach Doc Rivers would quit if Sterling still owned the Clippers next season -- and that other players and sponsors would leave too -- Sterling just keeps filing lawsuits anyway.

Despite some hope in the beginning of the week that there would be a settlement, Sterling instead filed a new civil lawsuit against his wife Shelly, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA itself on July 22. In this case, he wants damages for the "unlawful" and "fraudulent" efforts to take the Clippers from him.

If Sterling has his way, not only will the $2 billion sale to Ballmer get derailed, but he would keep a franchise that would then revolt against him. That was the picture painted by new Clippers CEO Richard Parsons on July 22, when he testified in the probate case between the Sterlings.

Parson claimed that Rivers would not return if Sterling still had ownership at the start of next season, and that Chris Paul and other players could follow Rivers out along with several sponsors. Yet Sterling won't even take a sale that would reportedly solve a lot of his debts, so threats of players and sponsor revolt seemingly won't stop him either.

Before Silver banned Sterling for life during the playoffs, there was legitimate buzz that the Clippers would refuse to play for him. If Sterling wins the case against his wife, or if he at least ties up things long enough to block the sale before November, the debate will resume on whether the Clippers can or should boycott in retaliation.

Even if Sterling and the NBA force some version of the Clippers to play, losing Rivers, Paul and other stars would virtually ruin the franchise. But Sterling has always seemed more willing to let the Clippers suffer under him than to let them thrive with anyone else. In that regard, not caring that the franchise would fall into utter ruin if he keeps fighting the NBA would be a fitting grand finale.

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