It was reported Wednesday that Shelly Sterling was reviewing bids from five groups interested in buying the Los Angeles Clippers. The unauthorized source stated if an agreement to sell is reached before next Tuesday, June 3rd, the NBA’s owners wouldn’t meet in New York to vote on terminating Donald Sterling’s ownership.
It’s reported that the five major groups have extensive financial means. The person told the Associated Press the sale price “appears to be increasing to an unbelievable number,” and that it could soar past $1.5 to $2 billion, and possibly more. Bids were due on Wednesday and Shelly Sterling’s team of bankers and attorneys were in the process of meticulously looking over the bids.
However, Donald Sterling’s attorney, Bobby Samini, said there would be no sale of the team without his client’s involvement, though he declined to state whether Sterling was involved in reviewing bids or was in touch with Shelly Sterling.
Donald Sterling purchased the Clippers for $12 million in 1981, making him the league’s longest-tenured owner. It has been noted by the NBA that on May 22, a letter obtained by the AP and written by another one of Sterling’s attorneys states that “Donald T. Sterling authorizes Rochelle Sterling to negotiate with the National Basketball Association regarding all issues in connection with a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers team.” It includes the line “read and approved” followed by Donald Sterling’s signature.
The unknown source told the AP that the league’s owners know a sale couldn’t be completed by next Tuesday, but if an agreement was in place, the NBA would give the Sterlings extra time before holding any meetings. The NBA hopes a voluntary sale would remove the potential of legal action being taken by the Sterling couple.
Donald Sterling released a fiery response to the NBA’s attempt to oust him. The league charged that he had damaged it and its merchandising partners with his racist comments about blacks last month in a taped conversation between him and his alleged girlfriend V. Staviano. He argued that there is no basis for stripping him of his team because his statements were illegally recorded – “during an inflamed lovers’ quarrel in which he was clearly distraught.”
“We do not believe a court in the United States of America will enforce the draconian penalties imposed on Mr. Sterling in these circumstances, and indeed, we believe that preservation of Mr. Sterling’s constitutional rights requires that these sham proceedings be terminated in Mr. Sterling’s favor,” the response said.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life and fined $2.5 million after the recording was made public.
Daniel Lazaroff, the director of the Sports Law Institute at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles stated that Shelly Sterling could complete an expedited sale of the team despite her husband’s legal conflicts.
“She would have to be willing to go through with a sale that gave her absolutely no retained ownership interest in order to satisfy the league,” said Lazaroff, a law professor at the school. “If she did that, I don’t think the league would stand in her way. If she wants to retain any portion of ownership it wouldn’t work.”
Donald Sterling signed the NBA’s constitution when he joined the league, and its bylaws has specific procedures for terminating ownership. Lazaroff said as long as the league follows its own rules it should be on solid legal ground.