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article imageLawsuit over fate of NBA Clippers begins in LA

By Nathan Salant     Jul 7, 2014 in Sports
Los Angeles - What ultimately happens to the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team — and possibly the crumbling marriage of its owners — could be resolved later this week in a courtroom as a lawsuit to determine who controls the NBA franchise gets underway.
Shelly Sterling is asking a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to confirm that she has the power to sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer over the objections of her co-owner husband, Donald Sterling.
But Donald Sterling, 80, has vowed to block the sale and is challenging a medical determination that early Alzheimer's has left him incompetent to decide the future of the team, according to Reuters.
The National Basketball Association wants Donald Sterling to relinquish control of the franchise and has threatened to seize the team if he does not.
The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after a secretly recorded conversation of him making racist remarks was broadcast on celebrity website TMZ.com during the league's playoffs in April.
The highly publicized comments, in which he implored a girlfriend to limit her associations with black people — including retired NBA star Magic Johnson — caused outrage among the public, led sponsors to cancel their support of the team and led players to threaten a boycott, Reuters said.
But attorneys for Donald Sterling contend that he was misled by his wife into submitting to mental fitness examinations that led to the physicians' determination.
But Donald Sterling's mental capacity will not be at issue during this week's four-day trial, Reuters said.
Instead, Judge Michael Levanas will decide whether Shelly Sterling's actions were proper under the couple's family trust and whether Donald Sterling's efforts to revoke the trust invalidated the proposed sale.
The sale to Ballmer has received tentative approval from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who ordered Donald Sterling banned, but still must be voted on by other owners in a vote scheduled for July 15.
Donald Sterling has asked for the trial to be delayed until August and requested last week that the case be moved to federal court on the grounds that his medical privacy rights had been violated, Reuters said.
Donald Sterling has filed a separate lawsuit against the NBA and Silver seeking $1 billion in damages, Reuters said.
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