Donald Sterling to fight Clippers sale after all, and resurrect his lawsuit against the NBA


(Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Maybe it’s because he noticed no one was talking about him over the weekend. Or maybe it’s because he had nothing else to do since his wife Shelly took over the family trust. Whatever the case Donald Sterling is back in the news again after announcing late Monday night that he would be suing the NBA for $1 billion after all and withdrawing his support to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to ex-Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

“From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I have worked for 33 years to build the Team,” Sterling said in a statement to CNN from his lawyer Max Blecher. He added (via CNN):

“I believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers, banning me for life from the NBA and imposing the fine. … The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans.”

But there’s one strange hangup with Sterling’s plans to sue. His wife already agreed to indemnify the NBA against all lawsuits, including anything brought on by her husband, said an individual familiar with the negotiations to the Associated Press on Monday. That means Shelly Sterling promised to cover the costs of the lawsuit, which suggests Donald Sterling would essentially be suing himself.

Commissioner Silver, meanwhile, was probably not caught off guard by Sterling’s latest move. He told CNN’s Rachel Nichols’ before the Monday night news broke that he remained weary of what Sterling might do even after Sterling initially agreed to the sale to Ballmer. Silver said (via CNN):

“[Sterling’s] unsold his club several times over the years. There’s well-noted incidents in the league when he was right there at a closing and at the last minute decided not to sell. And until he signs that document, we still have a pending litigation with him.”

He added, “When it’s done, we can all take a deep breath.”

As far as why Sterling decided to change his mind, his lawyer Bobby Samini alluded to a grander plan. “The NBA has a systemic problem with discriminatory conduct,” Samini said on the Today Show on Tuesday, specifically pointing to gender discrimination. As to how exactly that reflects on Sterling’s case, which centers on racial discrimination, though, is unclear. Samini continued telling the Today Show’s Matt Lauer:

“My client is out to clear his name and he is basically going to expose the NBA for what it is — it’s a band of hypocrites. …If you’re going to come after Sterling, maybe it’s time for the NBA to take a close reflection of their own conduct.”

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Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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