News

Combative Sterling says Clippers worth more than $2B

Combative Sterling says Clippers worth more than $2B

CLIPPERS CONTROVERSY:Shelly Sterling, 79, arrives at court in Los Angeles, California July 8. Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday sparred with his estranged wife’s attorney at a trial over the $2 billion sale of the NBA franchise, interrupting and shouting during testimony and saying he wants to keep the team for financial reasons.

The 80-year-old real estate billionaire, who has been deemed by physicians to have Alzheimer’s disease and is unable to handle business affairs, said he was blocking the sale brokered by his wife to former Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer because he believed the team’s value could be more than double.

“I think we can get somewhere between $2.5 to $5 billion for that team,” Sterling said, adding that rising television and media rights made the team more valuable to keep.

It is the first time Sterling has spoken publicly since a televised interview in May shortly after he was banned from the NBA for life for taped racist remarks that were made public.

Sterling had difficulty recalling dates and remembering past statements a day after he failed to appear when called to take the stand. He fought with celebrity attorney Bert Fields, repeatedly asking the lawyer his name.

An agitated Sterling, who often disputed Fields’s questions, snapped at the lawyer: “Tell me if that’s relevant, if you’re not trying to be a smart ass.”

“I think it showed you what this man is really like,” Fields said outside court. “It showed you the enormous hypocrisy of this guy, who will spout all these things about how he loves his wife, but he’s suing her.”

Shelly Sterling, 79, has asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas to confirm her as the sole trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers and to back the NBA-record deal.

‘WIFE CAN’T LEARN ANYTHING’

At issue is whether Shelly Sterling properly removed her husband as trustee after he was deemed by physicians to have early Alzheimer’s disease and unable to handle business affairs.

Sterling, who cried at one point speaking about his wife, repeatedly said he trusted her but that she lacked the ability to run his holdings, including the Clippers.

“It’s ludicrous to think she could run a corporation that has a billion dollars of liabilities with different banks,” he testified.

“My wife can’t learn anything,” Sterling added. “She’s beautiful and wonderful and intelligent, but she’s never had the experience that I have.”

Sterling’s attorneys say he was misled by his wife into submitting to medical examinations that removed him from control of the Clippers.

Sterling’s attorney, Bobby Samini, said outside court that this was usual behavior for his client.

“He has a lot to say; he’s got a lot on his chest,” Samini said. “I think he wanted to use this opportunity to try and get some of it out.”

The NBA has said it could seize the Clippers and put the franchise up for auction if the deal is not approved by Sept. 15.

(Editing by Mary Milliken, Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: March 27

Fresh
beatles

A look back on Hollywood headlines of years past.

in Weird

Dallas woman accused in illegal butt injections surrenders

Needles

Dallas police say a woman accused of providing illegal buttocks injections has surrendered to authorities.

in Entertainment

‘Downton Abbey’ to end after season six

This photo released by PBS and Carnival Film and Television Limited shows, from left, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore, and Sophie McShera as Daisy, in a scene from season four of the Masterpiece TV series, "Downton Abbey." As it returns for its much-awaited fourth season, it remains a series about elegance, tradition and gentility, and the pressures of preserving them. The show premieres Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 9 pm ET on PBS.

Producers confirm that the next season of "Downton Abbey" will be the last.

in Sports

Aaron Hernandez trail delayed by bomb threat

Former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez listens during a motion regarding jail phone recordings during his murder trial at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Mass., on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Hernandez is accused in the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd.

A bomb threat has delayed proceedings of the Aaron Hernandez murder trial.

in Entertainment

‘Empire’ co-stars spark romance rumors

gracegealey

Are Trai Byers and Grace Gealey more than just coworkers?