The biggest soap opera in the NBA continues to stay relevant during the off-season and it doesn’t look like it will fade away anytime soon.
The distraught owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, filed a new lawsuit in Superior Court Tuesday afternoon seeking damages from the NBA, Commissioner Adam Silver, and the Los Angeles Clippers basketball club. Sterling alleges that the entities in the lawsuit violated corporate law in the attempt to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
Sterling announced the new lawsuit while giving a testimony on Tuesday in the trial to determine whether his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, was authorized to sell the Clippers to Ballmer after Donald Sterling was deemed mentally unfit to run the family trust.
Sterling’s lawyer, Bobby Samini, said the suit addresses Sterling’s rights as sole shareholder of the Clippers. Donald alleges that when he revoked the trust on June 9, those shares reverted back to his name and Shelly Sterling had no authority to sell them.
“This is part two of the question that was raised in the probate court,” said Samini. “The issue in probate court is whether or not Donald was removed properly as a trustee. However, the team is not being sold by Donald, It’s not being sold by Shelly. It’s not being sold by the trust. The team is owned by the corporation. It’s only the corporation that can sell the team.”
What the new lawsuit essentially says is that the corporate actions that were taken during that time period were invalid, that they breached duties to Donald as the shareholder and more important, assert that Donald is the sole shareholder. He’s the only one who has the right to vote the shares. You cannot have a sale until those questions are answered.
In the suit, Sterling is alleging that the defendants breached contract, breached fiduciary duty, defrauded Sterling, and inflicted emotional distress. It also seeks injunctive relief, which is a block on the sale of the Clippers to Ballmer.
As the lawsuit seems to be in the forefront of Clippers news, things are brewing behind the scenes that might end up more catastrophic if Donald Sterling win in the court of law.
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has told the team’s interim CEO Richard Parsons that he doesn’t want to return next season if the disgraced owner Sterling remains associated with the Clippers.
“Doc has been the guy who has had to stand up and deal with the media” during the controversy surrounding Sterling’s racist comments in April and his subsequent lifetime ban from the NBA, Parsons testified Tuesday in the Sterling probate trial.
“He has told me he doesn’t think if Mr. Sterling remains that he wants to continue as coach. He’s told me that at least three times.”
Parsons said it would be “a disaster” if Rivers leaves.
“Doc is the father figure to the team,” Parsons testified. “Chris Paul is the on-court captain, but Doc is the leader, the coach, the grownup, a man of inestimable character and ability, not only a brilliant basketball coach but a man who really connects with people. He’s a man the players believe in and admire.”
Parsons testified that current players, sponsors, and season-ticket holders don’t want to be associated with Sterling either. So if Sterling is still associated with the team, the Clippers face uncertain situations with their coach, their players, their sponsors and their fans.
“That, at its core, is my concern,” Parsons said on the witness stand. “It can spiral down to the point where you can’t stop it. If none of your sponsors are in, and the coach doesn’t want to coach, and the players don’t want to play, what have you got?”
That is a very good question by Parsons, and in the near future we will get the answer to that question. Hopefully it will end the right way with the selling of the team. Stay tuned.