Donald Sterling hasn’t announced his surrender, but he’s running out of options.
The latest strike against him came Wednesday when a California appeals court rejected his request to stop the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Even though the sale of the team closed Tuesday, the longtime Clippers owner tried to stop it with another petition to the court. On Wednesday, the appeals court rejected his request, further affirming that the team was sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
“The evidence before this court indicates the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steven Ballmer has closed,” said the court’s ruling, signed by three justices. “Petitioner (Sterling) has failed to show otherwise. Thus, there is nothing for this court to stay. Even if the sale had not closed, petitioner has failed to show that the balancing of the relative harms favors granting a temporary stay.”
After months of furious litigation to stop the sale of the team, Sterling still could appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Asked if Sterling might surrender now, Sterling’s attorney, Bobby Samini, told USA TODAY Sports that was “very unlikely.”
His legal opponents think so, too.
“While we have no doubt Donald Sterling will appeal to the Supreme Court, we are beyond thrilled and gratified and supremely confident that this is now over and done and Steve Ballmer is the undisputed owner of the Los Angeles Clippers,” Ballmer’s attorney, Adam Streisand, said in a statement.
Sterling bought the team for about $12 million in 1981 but was banned by the NBA for life earlier this year after an audio recording surfaced with him making disparaging remarks about African-Americans in a private conversation with his female companion.
In a previous ruling in a different court, a probate judge affirmed his wife’s right to sell the team without his approval after doctors determined he was mentally unfit to run the Sterling Family Trust, which owned the team.
Sterling also has filed an antitrust suit against the NBA in federal court. On Monday, the NBA filed a counterclaim against the Sterling Family Trust and Sterling, saying he had caused incalculable harm to the league.
“We who represent Donald Sterling are deeply disappointed that he has been deprived from ownership of the Clippers after 33 years without being accorded appellate review of this harsh result,” Samini said in a statement along with another Sterling attorney, Max Blecher. “Nevertheless, we are confident Donald will be completely vindicated in his federal case against the NBA. More importantly, we believe that the `popular’ ruling in the Probate matter is a serious blow to the Privacy rights for all Americans.”
PHOTOS: NEW CLIPPERS OWNER STEVE BALLMER
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