Court denies Sterling's bid to halt Clippers sale

Last updated 15:13 09/08/2014
Donald Sterling
KIRBY-LEE/ USA Today
OUTCAST: LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA after making racist comments.

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A California appeals court on Friday rejected on procedural grounds an attempt by disgraced Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling to have the US$2 billion sale of the NBA team put on hold until his appeal can be heard, his attorneys said.

In denying Sterling's latest attempt to block the sale brokered by his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer, the court said there was nothing for it to review at this time, according to an order posted on the website of the state appeals court.

Sterling's attorneys said they filed their request for an injunction after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas prematurely finalised his tentative ruling from last month allowing Shelly Sterling, 79, to consummate the NBA-record sale. Levanas has found she had the power and fiduciary duty to complete the deal with Ballmer.

Levanas on Friday vacated his finalised ruling, Sterling's attorneys said in a statement. He will not issue that decision until next week to allow Sterling's attorneys time to raise their objections with his decision. If his ruling remains the same, the attorneys said they plan to ask for the injunction again with a California appeals court.

Lawyers for the 80-year-old real estate billionaire, who has been banned for life by the NBA for racist remarks, say Levanas, a probate judge, ruled too broadly in allowing the Clippers sale to move forward pending Donald Sterling's own appeal.

The all-cash deal is set to be completed by August 15, ahead of the NBA's September 15 deadline. The league has said it could confiscate the franchise and sell it at auction if the sale is not completed by that date.

Shelly Sterling struck the deal with Ballmer in May, a month after the NBA banned her husband after his privately taped remarks imploring a girlfriend not to publicly associate with black people were published.

Sterling's remarks during the Clippers' playoff run sparked public outrage and prompted sponsors to cut ties with the team.

The team's interim chief executive, Richard Parsons, testified at the probate trial that head coach Doc Rivers was ready to quit if Sterling still owned the team and players would do the same.

Sterling, who initially blessed the deal to Ballmer, has said he wants to hold onto the team on principle and that he believes it is worth much more than US$2 billion.

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- Reuters

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