The fight for the Clippers gets real next Monday — attorneys for Donald T. Sterling and his wife Shelly will face off in California probate court in a multi-day hearing.
At stake is whether the Clippers can be sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in a deal set up by Shelly Sterling. The Clippers are owned by the Sterling Family Trust of which Donald and Shelly each own half, but she had him declared “mentally incapacitated” by the terms of the trust, leaving her as the sole trustee, so she set up the sale.
Donald goes to court next week arguing Shelly did not follow the proper procedure in the trust and that the test was flawed, therefore he should be re-instated as a trustee. Then he can block the sale.
Donald’s attorney Bobby Samini says the test is compromised because the doctor, Donald and others went out to drinks right after it together, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
Donald Sterling will argue that the findings of one of the doctors who examined him to determine his mental capacity was compromised because the doctor went out for dinner and drinks with him, his estranged wife Shelly Sterling and a family friend after his examination, his attorney Bobby Samini told ESPN.com on Monday night….
Samini said Monday night that when the doctor in question is cross-examined during the four-day trial that is set to begin July 7, he would ask whether “any part of your professional evaluation would take into consideration the conversation you had with him at the Polo Lounge.”
The focus of the trial is not going to be whether Donald is mentally competent or not, the judge didn’t want to go down that road, Shelburne reports. Rather both attorneys agreed to focus the case on whether Shelly followed the proper legal steps in having Donald declared incapacitated, and with that whether the exam is valid.
None of this saves Donald Sterling from the wrath of the NBA. In the wake of the huge backlash racist comments he made on a leaked tape, Donald is toxic to the NBA’s business and the other owners — led by commissioner Adam Silver — want him gone.
If Sterling wins in California probate court, the NBA will return to its Plan A and just have the other owners vote him out and have the league sell his team (he would still get the profits). Remember that these are NBA franchises and people who damage the brand can be kicked out in much the same way other members could vote out someone of a country club or a fraternity. Sterling joined the private club, he has to play by its rules.
That is a messier process for the NBA, and the league likes Ballmer and wants him in the club. A sale is a much easier process as far as the league is concerned.
It all falls to the probate court now. And if you can have drinks with a guy you just gave a mental exam to.