Sterling's wife insists had power to sell Clippers

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 11 2014 07:25 PM | Updated as of Jul 12 2014 03:25 AM

LOS ANGELES - The wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling insisted Thursday that she had the power to sell the NBA club, in feisty testimony a day after he called her a "pig" in court.

Shelly Sterling also said that NBA commissioner Adam Silver told her that he would consider a reduction in the life ban he issued to Donald Sterling if he agreed to sell the team.

Sterling was slapped with that ban, and the NBA is moving to have the team sold, after a recording surfaced of him making racist comments about blacks, triggering an uproar among NBA players and the American public.

The trial is about whether a deal that Shelly Sterling struck to sell the team to former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer for $2 billion is legitimate.

Shelly Sterling, who is separated from her husband but not divorced, smiled and exchanged pleasantries with lawyers and the judge but firmly disputed claims by Donald Sterling's lawyer Maxwell Blecher.

At the end of Thursday's testimony, the case was recessed until July 21.

The previous day, Shelly Sterling had left the court visibly upset by her husband's insults, which included telling her to "Get away from me, you pig!"

On the fourth day of the trial, Blecher focused his questions on email exchanges between Shelly Sterling's lawyers and a medical expert who diagnosed her husband with Alzheimer's disease. He tried to show that the expert was conniving with her attorneys.

But Shelly Sterling insisted she knew nothing about the emails, and that her only concern was her husband's health.

-- Sterling's 'mood swings'--

"I wanted to know what was going on with his mood swings, his screaming. There was something wrong," she said, alluding to her husband's anger at Blecher himself.

"You know how he acted at you in the house," she told the attorney.

Shelly Sterling explained at length how her husband had given her the power to sell the team, stressing that he had been "happy" and relieved for her to sign the deal with Ballmer.

Asked if she was surprised when her husband changed his mind and decided not to sell, Shelly Sterling said: "No, that's part of the disease."

She insisted his power over the family trust could be removed, even without his being diagnosed with dementia.

"He gave me a letter telling me to sell the team... I didn't need to remove him as a trustee. He gave me permission to sell the team," she said.

On Wednesday, Donald Sterling told the Los Angeles Superior Court that he was "deceived" by his wife so that he could be declared mentally unfit, allowing her to sell the Clippers franchise, which he has owned since 1981.

Donald Sterling, 80, was banned from the NBA for life earlier this year following the release of recorded conversations between him and his girlfriend V. Stiviano.

Sterling is heard on the tape making bigoted comments, criticizing Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people and telling her not to bring them to Clippers games.

But Shelly Sterling, 79, said Silver told her several weeks ago he would consider removing the life ban on Donald Sterling.

She quoted Silver as saying, "Maybe we can do a one-year ban and two years probation" but only provided Donald Sterling stayed by her plan to sell the team.

"Adam was afraid he would look like a fool," Shelly Sterling said.

Instead, Donald Sterling decided to press his court case and fight the sale, vowing investigators would find embarrassing remarks from other team owners.

Going back on the life ban of Donald Sterling, even to facilitate the Clippers sale, might have been an issue for many of the NBA players who insisted Sterling face the fullest possible punishment for his comments.

The deal faces a mid-September deadline for completion before the NBA looks at putting the club up for auction and scuttling the Ballmer deal ahead of the October start of training camps.

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