Disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling appears poised to fight back against what he sees as the forced sale of the team, and it could mean a long, drawn-out battle.
NBA leaders have been looking to oust the 80-year-old billionaire as owner of the Clippers since leaked audio recordings revealed him encouraging his purported girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring African-Americans guests to his basketball team’s games or to appear with them in public.
Sterling’s wife Shelly Sterling will head to probate court Wednesday, according to the Associated Press, where she will try to block her husband from re-instating himself as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which officially owns the Clippers. By having him declared mentally incapacitated in May, Shelly Sterling became the sole owner of the trust, clearing the way for her to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion with or without her husband’s approval.
According to USA TODAY Sports, it is likely that Donald Sterling’s mental health will be closely examined as both sides argue over whether he is fit to make decisions about the trust.
Sterling’s lawyer contends he should still be considered a trustee, and told USA TODAY if the probate court judge agrees, his client prepared for “war” in his efforts to block the sale of the team.
Sterling released a letter late Tuesday blasting the NBA and its leadership as “hypocrites and bullies” who are “incompetent, inexperienced and angry” and trying to take away his “right to privacy and right to freedom of speech.”
“I feel that every American has to protect those rights and that the NBA should not be allowed to take away those rights,” he wrote in the letter provided to NBC News. “I have apologized for my mistakes. My apology is sincere. I want every American to know that I will not give up fighting for those rights.”
Sterling accuses NBA leadership of seizing upon the controversy over his racially charged comments as an “opportunity to settle the personal grievances they have harbored against me for years.”
He also slams the NBA for a “history of discriminatory practices” which have inspired numerous lawsuits from employees claiming gender based discrimination and insists NBA Commissioner Adam Silver should be examining those issues as well.
“The reason Adam Silver is focused on the sale, instead the larger social issue, is because doing so would require him to examine the NBA’s own discriminatory practices, including those that occurred under his many years in leadership,” he writes. “If the NBA is sincere about their approach, Adam Silver needs to publicly examine the NBA’s own conduct and the conduct of each and every Owner.”
“We have to fight for the rights of all Americans. We have to fight these despicable monsters. THIS IS THE REASON I WILL NOT SELL MY TEAM,” he concludes in the letter.