Sterling will not back down

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iol spt may2 Donald Sterling Reuters Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Photo: Lucy Nicholson

Los Angeles - A combative Donald Sterling testified he would go to his grave suing the NBA amid chaotic scenes in the courtroom Wednesday during which he vowed to “never ever” sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

The outspoken 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 Los Angeles Clippers franchise that he has owned since 1981.

Shelly Sterling took the stand for the first time and after giving her testimony, she approached Donald Sterling, who yelled loudly enough so people in the court could hear, “Get away from me, you pig!”

The outburst visibly upset Shelly Sterling, who quickly took her seat next to her lawyers. Two sheriff deputies then moved over and stood next to Donald Sterling in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

When the court adjourned for the day, officials cleared spectators from the courtroom gallery, leaving the Sterlings on opposite sides of the room, sitting next to their lawyers. Both eventually left the court via different doors - Donald Sterling through a rear entrance and his wife through the courtroom door.

The 80-year-old Sterling 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, criticising Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people and telling her not to bring them to Clipper games.

The team owner says that he was recorded illegally while making emotional remarks during a disagreement with Stiviano.

The league announced plans to take action against Sterling to force him to sell the team. But Sterling has since filed a lawsuit against the NBA, alleging violations of his civil rights.

The non-jury trial is being held to determine whether Shelly Sterling has the authority to sell the Clippers under the terms of the family trust that owns the team.

After being a no-show on Monday's first day of the trial, Donald Sterling appeared for his second day of testimony on Wednesday.

On the stand prior to the outburst, he said his wife doesn't understand the terms of the family trust and was lied to by NBA officials in an effort to force him to give up control of the team.

“My wife, my beautiful wife, wouldn't know what's in the trust,” he said. “She didn't read the trust. The trust is complicated.”

But he also slammed his wife for having him undergo two mental health exams that resulted in the doctors diagnosing him with Alzheimer's.

That finding led to a proposed $2 billion sale of the Clippers by Shelly Sterling to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

“She deceived me,” Sterling said. “I trusted her.

“I will never, ever, ever sell the team. And until I die, I will be suing the NBA.”

Shelly Sterling took the stand after her husband and told the court that he had become combative and “forgetful”

“He's slurring his words,” she said. “He's agitated a lot. He gets mad for no particular reason. He is just not the same person.”

The trial was initially expected to continue to Thursday with Judge Michael Levanas to rule later on whether the incapacity finding was properly reached.

Donald Sterling is seeking to halt the sale, arguing that his privacy rights were violated by the release of his medical records.

Shelly Sterling's lawyers said they intend to rest their portion of the case when she finishes testimony on Thursday. Donald Sterling's lawyers said they still have a long list of witnesses to question.

Sapa-AFP



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