LOS ANGELES (CBSNewYork/AP) — Donald and Shelly Sterling, the long-separated married couple whose peaceful partnership atop the Los Angeles Clippers is described by one person close to them as “a strange estrangement,” are facing off as official foes with a $2 billion deal hanging on the outcome.
An attorney for Shelly Sterling went to probate court Wednesday to seek an emergency hearing to confirm her authority to sell the Clippers despite opposition from her estranged husband.
Donald Sterling said in a statement Tuesday that he’s not just fighting for the Clippers but taking a stand against the NBA, which he called “a band of hypocrites and bullies” and “despicable monsters” who want “to take away our privacy rights and freedom of speech.”
His statement in full:
“I was brought up in America and educated to believe that every citizen has a right to privacy and right to freedom of speech. As a lawyer and citizen, I am shocked (but not surprised) that the NBA wants to take away those fundamental rights.
“I feel that every American has to protect those rights and that the NBA should not be allowed to take away those rights. I have apologized for my mistakes. My apology is sincere. I want every American to know that I will not give up fighting for those rights.
“I also feel that the leadership of the NBA is incompetent, inexperienced and angry. It is clear that they took this opportunity to settle the personal grievances they have harbored against me for years.
“The NBA has a history of discriminatory practices which is supported by the numerous lawsuits filed by NBA employees claiming gender based discrimination. Adam Silver has worked for the NBA since 1992. He must know about the discriminatory practices of the NBA which are all matters of public record. The reason Adam Silver is focused on the sale, instead [of] the larger social issue, is because doing so would require him to examine the NBA’s own discriminatory practices, including those that occurred under his many years in leadership. If the NBA is sincere about their approach, Adam Silver needs to publicly examine the NBA’s own conduct and the conduct of each and every Owner.
“For now, it seems Adam Silver is content with focusing his energy on violating my rights, attempting to take my property, and signing autographs for TMZ. Maybe once the dust settles, he will have some time to focus on the NBA’s own transgressions.
“The NBA continues to thrive and exact its reign of terror in large part from the money it receives from the Fans. The NBA is a band of hypocrites and bullies. They will not stop until someone stands up. They have taken the liberty to desecrate my privacy rights and my right to own property. I have no doubt that they will continue to find new ways to violate my rights and the rights of any person in order to draw attention away from their discriminatory and repulsive conduct.
“We have to fight for the rights of all Americans. We have to fight these despicable monsters. THIS IS THE REASON I WILL NOT SELL MY TEAM.”
Donald Sterling is suing the league for $1 billion. The league has sought to ban him for life since racist remarks emerged in a recording in April.
Shelly Sterling brokered what would be a record-breaking $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to sell the team less than two weeks ago.
She contends she is the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the team. Donald Sterling was stripped as co-trustee after two neurologists last month determined he has dementia and is “mentally incapacitated” under the trust’s conditions, according to a person who is familiar with the trust and the medical evaluations but could not speak publicly.
The aim of Shelly Sterling’s court bid is to have a judge confirm provisions of the family trust to ensure the Ballmer sale moves forward without a hitch. Donald Sterling has the right to present his side at any hearing and appeal any decision.
“There isn’t the slightest evidence he’s incapable of managing his affairs,” Donald Sterling’s attorney, Maxwell Blecher, said.
“I have no doubt at the end of the day the court is not going to say he’s incompetent. That’s a very high burden in the probate court — otherwise people would get their sisters and wife and brother-in-laws and everybody declared incompetent.”
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