Donald Sterling may never have been a good NBA team owner and he may never have been a particularly good (or even passable) landlord or human being but he’s always been rather good at one thing: suing and counter-suing anyone who crosses him.
So, it’s not surprising to see that Sterling is now suing his wife and the NBA by claiming that the two of them conspired against him. More specifically he’s accusing Shelly Sterling and the NBA of fraud, breach of contract and a whole lot of other things including emotional distress:
He also charged that the defendants acted with “complete and utter disregard” for his “psychological, financial, and emotional attachment to a team he owned for 33 years, which resulted in the infliction of severe emotional distress.”
As for the actual meat of the lawsuit, Donald Sterling is claiming that the LAC Basketball Club Inc. owns the Clippers, not the Sterling Family Trust. Since Donald Sterling is the sole trust holder of LAC Basketball Club Inc., the argument goes that Shelly had no right to sell the team since she would have had no controlling interest in the LAC Basketball Club Inc. However, Donald Sterling attempted to move the ownership of the club from the Sterling Family Trust to LAC Basketball Club Inc. on June 9th, two weeks after he was declared mentally incapable of operating the trust.
Of course, Sterling is making contingency plans in the meantime. He has met with Steve Ballmer, the man who will be the owner of the Clippers once Donald’s temper tantrum ends, and the two reportedly discussed ways for this to end more quickly than it would in a courtroom. Ballmer had previously agreed to buy the Clippers for $2 billion.
In the meantime, the NBA and the rest of the world is already acting as if Donald Sterling is no longer the owner of the the team. Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons stated that players and sponsors have already made it clear that they want nothing to do with Sterling:
He said he had heard from players concerned about Sterling’s possible return, as well as many sponsors who said their advertising with the team was contingent upon Sterling staying away.
“The basic message is we are in, so long as Donald Sterling is out,” Parsons said, citing Kia Motors and the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas as among advertisers who wanted no association with Sterling.
Then there’s Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a coach who has the respect of the organization. Parsons has also stated that Doc will likely quit his job if Sterling remains owner:
Parsons testified in Los Angeles County Superior Court that he was particularly concerned about the possible departure of Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who he said had suggested in at least three conversations that he would probably leave if the team wasn’t sold.
“Doc is really the guy who leads the effort. He is the coach. He is the grown-up,” Parsons said. “The team believes in him and admires him and loves him. And if he were to bail because of other circumstances … that is going to accelerate the death spiral.”
It’s largely shaping up to be Donald Sterling vs. the world and Sterling probably wouldn’t want it any other way.