Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, according to TMZ, leading him to be declared too “mentally incapacitated” to control the team.
Sterling is officially the team’s former owner even before the $2 billion sale to Steve Ballmer gets a stamp of approval from the NBA.
Sterling was determined to be mentally unfit to make decisions related to the family trust.
According to USA Today, the Sterling Family Trust owns the team and based on provisions and protocol related to mental capacity, Sterling’s wife, Shelly, became the sole power-wielding decision-maker recently. Experts determined Donald Sterling was not capable of making those decisions due to his mental state.
Sterling’s lawyer, Max Blecher, however, vehemently denied reports that his client is in a poor mental state, telling ESPN that Sterling is “far from mentally incompetent.”
Shelly Sterling opened bidding with a deadline this week and reached agreement with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Thursday. Ballmer was the highest bigger by “several hundred million” dollars according to reports and the deal that would be worth $2 billion — nearly four times the NBA franchise record sale of $550 million for the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this year — went directly to the NBA Board of Governors.
“I love basketball,” Ballmer said in a statement released via Sterling’s attorneys. “And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles. LA is one of the world’s great cities — a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will, in the coming years, become an even bigger part of the community. I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process.”
A vote could come quickly and happen before the June 3 meeting scheduled for the purpose of voting on termination of Sterling’s ownership rights.
“I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner,” Shelly Sterling said in a statement. “We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”
Mike Bass, NBA executive vice president of communications, said in a statement Friday that the league still plans to meet on June 3 before taking action.
“Commissioner Silver has consistently said the preferred outcome to the Clippers proceeding would be a voluntary sale of the team,” Bass said. “Shelly Sterling advised the NBA last night that an agreement had been reached with Steve Ballmer, and the NBA Advisory/Finance Committee met via conference call this morning to discuss these developments. We await the submission of necessary documentation from Mrs. Sterling. In the meantime, the June 3 special meeting of the NBA Board of Governors remains as scheduled.”
Ballmer can get 100 percent of the franchise but Shelly Sterling could, potentially, be involved with the franchise in a capacity, according to reports. That might be a sticking point for fellow NBA owners seeking a clean slate and eliminating any ties the Sterling Family could have with the team.
Donald Sterling purchased the Clippers for $12 million in 1981. The sale is subject to a 30-percent one-time tax when the $2 billion transaction is executed.
With the sale of the Bucks earlier this year, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl profited $532 million. He purchased the franchise in 1985 for $18 million.