Disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whose racist rant to a girlfriend made him a national pariah, said in court Wednesday that he would never sell the team NBA commissioner Adam Silver stripped him of.
”Make no mistake today,” Sterling shouted toward the end of his second day of testimony in the trial to determine his wife’s right to make a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers, ”I will never, ever sell this team, and until I die I will be suing the NBA for this terrible violation under antitrust.”
NBA owners are scheduled to vote on the Ballmer deal July 15. It’s also the day that Ballmer’s offer is set to expire – and there is no deal without the judge’s approval of the sale.
If the sale isn’t completed by Sept. 15, the league said it could seize the team and put it up for auction.
Sterling was loud and defiant, yelling at both his lawyers and the attorneys of his wife Shelly. And when she tried to approach him he shouted: “Get away from me, you pig!”
The judge then admonished him to make no further comments.
Sterling began his testimony by saying he loved his wife, but then denounced her. He said she told him to have psychiatric and neurological exams only because he had turned 80, and she was concerned for his health.
”She deceived me. I trusted her,” Sterling said. ”I never thought a wife wouldn’t stand for her husband.”
Donald Sterling’s lawyers are challenging the authority of Shelly Sterling under the family trust to unilaterally cut a deal for the team with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Before she made the deal, two doctors examined Donald Sterling and declared him mentally incapacitated and unable to act as an administrator of the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers.
Sterling said he was certain his wife had never read the trust documents because it was too complicated for her to understand.
During examination by his own lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, Sterling was asked about his wife’s position in the trust if he were to be disqualified as a trustee.
”She has no rights whatsoever. She has no stock. She has no standing whatsoever,” Sterling said.
He also lashed out at the NBA, saying: ”My wife was terrified. She’s frightened to death. She thinks the NBA will take away everything she worked for. She was scared out of her mind.”
The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life and moved to force him to sell the Clippers after a recorded conversation in which he made racist statements came to light earlier this year.
He denied he was a racist from the witness stand when asked Wednesday.
Sterling at times yelled at his own lawyer, as well as the lawyer for Shelly Sterling, and threw a paper down on the witness box.
He was followed to the stand by Shelly Sterling, who said she was a 50 percent beneficiary of the family trust.
When asked by her attorney Pierce O’Donnell if she was ”separated” from her husband of 58 years, she said ”sort of.” But she described herself as his principal caretaker, who takes him to medical appointments, makes sure he takes all of his pills, and is concerned for him.
”Do you love your husband?” O’Donnell asked.
”Yes, I do,” Shelly Sterling said.
But she then told of seeing him in an interview on CNN and becoming frightened by his personality change.”I couldn’t believe it, and I started crying,” she said. ”I felt so bad. I couldn’t believe that was him.”
She said she contacted a neurologist to examine him and later a psychiatrist, thinking initially that he might have had a stroke.
She said she suggested radiological tests or imaging to examine his brain, and was told eventually that he had early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. She became slightly tearful as she described her understanding of the disease, which becomes progressively worse.
Her testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday.