Wife of Donald Sterling, Shelly Sterling, has got the go-ahead to sell NBA franchise the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday.
After a three-week long trial period, a California Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas allowed Shelly Sterling to sell the NBA franchisee, despite her husband's disapproval. According to the ruling, Shelly Sterling can go forward with the $2 billion sale, even if her husband chooses to appeal.
"This is going to be a good thing for the city, for the league for my family and for all of us," Shelly Sterling said outside the courthouse. "Come see the Clippers next year."
The ruling has come as a major victory for Shelly Sterling, who asked the court to confirm her as a trustee of Sterling family trust, after her husband Donald was adjudged to be suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, which made him unable to make the proper decisions. Donald Sterling's attorney Max Blecher, however, called it a 'scheme' against his client.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass in a statement said that the league is pleased with the court's decision and was looking forward to a new chapter in the franchise's history.
"We are pleased that the court has affirmed Shelly Sterling's right to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer," Bass said in the statement. "We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible."
Donald Sterling was given a life ban and a $2.5 million fine by NBA for making racist comments during one of the games in the postseason. He was caught telling his girlfriend not to associate with black people, including hall of famer Magic Johnson.
Donald was under pressure to sell the Clippers as interim CEO of the team Richard Parsons confirmed that the sponsors, coach Doc Rivers and the players might quit if he keeps ownership of the team.
The 80-year-old, after permitting his wife to negotiate the contract, refused to sign the deal, saying he would "never, ever sell" the team. Donald Sterling has 15 days to appeal against the verdict and his attorneys said he will challenge the decision.
"He doesn't see this as the final battleground," said Sterling's attorney, Bobby Samini. "This is one stage of a long war."
Donald Sterling has sued the NBA commissioner Adam Silver, his wife and the league in United States federal courts for illegally taking over his team.
However, according to legal experts, Donald Sterling can challenge the ruling but the case is strongly in favour of Shelly Sterling and it is unlikely that the sale will be stopped.
"He can appeal as much as he likes, but the Clippers are going to be sold to Ballmer," Ed McCaffery, a professor of law at University of Southern California, told to The Globe and Mail.