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article imageJudge OKs sale of NBA team over co-owner's objections

By Nathan Salant     Jul 30, 2014 in Sports
Los Angeles - The wife of embattled Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling can sell the NBA team for $2 billion despite strenuous objections by her husband, who is almost certain to appeal.
Shelly Sterling, who reached a deal to sell the club to a former Microsoft Corp. CEO after Donald Sterling was banned from the league for life for making racist remarks, cried after the ruling and called it a "win."
She and Donald Sterling have owned the Clippers for 33 years under the terms of a family trust, but Shelly Sterling moved to have her husband's ownership rights extinguished after a national scandal erupted earlier this year over his remarks, which were recorded and broadcast on television.
Shelly Sterling, who alleged in court that her husband was suffering from early Alzheimer's Disease and was no longer capable of directing the team's business affairs, is now expected to proceed with the sale.
"Either way we'd win," Shelly Sterling said outside the courtroom, according to the Reuters news service.
"I am just doing what I had to do," she said.
Donald Sterling's attorney, Bobby Samini, said he would be filing an appeal of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas's decision.
"He doesn't see this as the final battleground," Samini said of Donald Sterling.
"This is one stage of a long war," Samini said.
In the recorded remarks, Donald Sterling is heard imploring a mistress to stop associating with black people, including former NBA star Magic Johnson [Unlink].
A majority of NBA players are black, and publication of the remarks caused many Clippers players to threatened to leave the team and caused several Clippers sponsors to threaten their association with the team.
The uproar caused National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver to suspend Donald Sterling for life and to fine him $2.5 million, prompting Shelly Sterling to try to sell the team.
After reportedly initially agreeing, Donald Sterling vowed to block the sale and has his own a lawsuit against the league.
But Levanas agreed that Shelly Sterling would be the family trust's sole trustee and that her agreement to sell the team for $2 billion to Steve Ballmer [Unlink] was legal whether Donald Sterling agreed or not.
"She had every good reason to believe that Donald agreed to the sale of the team," Levanas said in his decision, which described Donald Sterling's testimony during the trial as "often evasive and inconsistent."
NBA officials expressed satisfaction with the judge's ruling.
"We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a written statement.
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