- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The bizarre battle over the fate of the Los Angeles Clippers goes to a judge Monday and he may not have the final word on the dispute.

The story has taken one strange turn after another since a recording surfaced of team owner Donald Sterling dressing down his young girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games. The viral audio spurred the NBA to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million.

In the aftermath, his estranged wife of 58 years, Shelly Sterling, took control of a family trust and negotiated a record $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. With her husband contesting the deal, she went to Los Angeles County Superior Court to clear the way for the sale.

Here’s a look at how the case has played out:


The key issue in probate court is whether Donald Sterling killed the deal by revoking the trust after his wife removed him as a trustee.

Shelly Sterling acted after doctors found the 80-year-old billionaire had symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. A trustee can be removed if two doctors determine he or she is unable to manage their affairs.

However, the trust is also revocable, and Donald Sterling moved to break it about a week after his wife cut the deal with Ballmer. His lawyers claim that action undid the sale and the case shouldn’t be in probate court.

Judge Michael Levanas has said the trust was so clear that he “could decide this case in five minutes,” but testimony has dragged out over two weeks.

He scheduled closing arguments Monday.


Shelly Sterling said she was initially given her husband’s blessing to sell the team and he praised the deal she reached.

When it came time to sign it at the end of May, however, Sterling said he would not sell and would sue the league.

“He started screaming and cursing at me,” Shelly Sterling testified.

Donald Sterling testified that he offered to let his wife negotiate the sale because he believed she would retain an interest in the team.

Story Continues →