Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will not go quietly into that $2.5 billion good night. Just a day after news broke that the Sterlings would sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, there is now confirmation that Sterling is suing the NBA for $1 billion.
Sterling’s attorney confirmed to ESPN on Friday that the octogenarian Clippers owner would be suing the National Basketball Association for $1 billion – with a ‘B’ – and enumerated the many supposed ways the league has sinned against Sterling.
“The [termination] charges in the lawsuit are an invasion of his constitutional rights,” attorney Max Blecher told ESPN, “violation of antitrust laws, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract.”
As aforesaid, the announcement of the suit comes on the heels of another announcement that Sterling’s wife, Shelly, had agreed to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Sterling, though, appears dissatisfied with dominating the sports news cycle just one day in this week.
Why the lurching back and forth? It’s well known among observers of the league that Sterling is a litigious sort. The soon-to-be-former Clippers owner started out in the courts, and he is said to relish the opportunity to litigate against opponents. There is another facet to the tale, though.
Earlier in May, a pair of neurologists conducted several tests on the 80-year-old Sterling, concluding that he suffers from Alzheimer’s and that that may have been the case for the past three to five years. That diagnosis cleared the way for Shelly Sterling sell the team, which she then did.
Donald Sterling, then, has been boxed out of the operations of his franchise, in addition to his being banned from NBA events for life. The billionaire, though, isn’t exactly happy with the neurologists’ diagnosis. His attorney told ESPN that the examinations were “grossly exaggerated” and that “Mr. Sterling is far from mentally incompetent.” In a previous interview, though, Blecher admitted that Sterling had “modest mental impairment” or “a slowing down.”
The Sterling Saga has tainted what has otherwise been a fascinating NBA Playoffs, one of the best in recent memory, with the league’s young stars shining bright in down-to-the-wire finishes. Sterling, though, has occasionally proved to be the bigger story, even though the NBA would like to focus on Kevin Durant, the rise of Paul George, and whatever sweet nothings Lance Stephenson was whispering in Lebron’s ear. The Clippers owner was recently found to be the most hated man in America, according to a recent poll, ahead of accused and convicted murderers like O.J Simpson, Phil Spector, and Aaron Hernandez, as well as history’s greatest monster, Justin Bieber.
The minute Sterling’s racist remarks leaked to the press, the Clippers owner became a pariah in the NBA, a league in which a wide majority of the players are African-American. League stars like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James quickly expressed their disappointment with Sterling, adding that they would not play for him, and in some cases hinting that they might not play at all if he still owned the team next season. The league moved quickly to extirpate Sterling, fining him millions of dollars and banning him for life from attending NBA events. That, though, appears to have only been the beginning.