While it was reported last week that Donald Sterling had agreed to drop his $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA, on Sunday, league commissioner Adam Silver said he was still in “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode, as Sterling had yet to formally drop the suit. It turns out his instincts were good. On Monday, Sterling’s lawyer Maxwell Blecher announced, “We have been instructed to prosecute the lawsuit.” Also, the Los Angeles Clippers owner no longer supports the deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, which was negotiated by his wife Shelly. Apparently, Sterling thought the NBA had agreed not to punish him at all for making racist remarks on tape, and changed his mind after realizing that the league wouldn’t revoke his lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine. In a statement released late on Monday, Sterling explained, “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.”
It’s unclear how Sterling’s legal challenge will affect the sale of the Clippers. Shelly negotiated the sale as the sole trustee of the family trust after her husband was found to have a cognitive impairment. On Monday, the New York Times reported that Shelly urged Donald to undergo neurological testing after watching his disastrous interview with Anderson Cooper, telling friends that she was “motivated by concern for her husband.”
Sources say a neurologists from UCLA Medical Center and another from the San Fernando Valley concluded that Sterling was cognitively impaired. Shelly’s lawyers said their findings gave her the right to make the deal on her own, though Blecher claims they only found that the 80-year-old businessman has a mild “slowing down.”
Here’s Sterling’s full statement:
I would like to clarify some issues regarding the Los Angeles Clippers and affiliated matters. From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I have worked for 33 years to build the Team.
To be clear, I am extremely sorry for the hurtful statements I made privately. I made those statements in anger and out of jealousy all in the context of a private conversation. While this is not an excuse for the statements, like every other American, I never imagined that my private conversation would be made public.
Many things have been said about me in the media which are not true. 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. Adam Silver’s conduct in doing so without conducting any real investigation was wrong.
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.
I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights. While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled.
I love the team and have dedicated 33 years of my life to the organization. I intend to fight to keep the Team.
This post has been updated throughout.