An attorney representing Donald Sterling rejected the claim the Clippers owner is mentally incompetent, setting the stage for a legal showdown over the sale of the team.
“Mr. Sterling is far from mentally incompetent,” Max Blecher wrote in an email to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. He called the results of Sterling’s diagnosis “grossly exaggerated.”
Sterling had been evaluated by neurologists earlier this month, according to media reports, and his wife, Shelly, was given complete control of the Clippers following the declaration that her husband was mentally incompetent per the terms of the Sterling Family Trust, the vehicle through which the couple owns the basketball team.
Shelly Sterling then made a deal late Thursday to sell the team to Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft chief executive, for $2 billion. The deal must be approved by the National Basketball Association, which is scheduled to meet on the matter next week.
It’s believed that the league will approve the bid if the new owners agree to keep the team in Los Angeles, which Ballmer has said he will do.
The $2 billion price would set a record for an NBA team; it would be almost four times higher than the $550 million sale of the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this year. According to media reports, Ballmer outbid a group that included David Geffen and executives from the Guggenheim Group, the Chicago-based owners of the Dodgers. That group bid $1.6 billion. Also outbid were Los Angeles investors Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh, who offered $1.2 billion
The controversy over the Clippers’ ownership began when Sterling was recorded telling his mistress, V. Stiviano, that he didn’t want her bringing black people with her to the games. The NBA quickly fined Sterling, banned him for life and moved to force a sale of the team.