The 80-year-old’s behavior became even more erratic in court Wednesday when he snapped at Shelly Sterling and told her, “Get away from me, you pig.”
The trial to determine whether Shelly Sterling has the authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers continued Wednesday with the end of the often erratic and combative testimony by Donald Sterling, the embattled 80-year-old owner.
Along with vowing that he would “never, ever sell” the NBA team he has owned since 1981, Donald Sterling also turned on wife Shelly in the courtroom, calling her a “pig.”
During the proceedings, Donald Sterling denounced the NBA, alleging that he is attempting to block the proposed sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record-setting $2 billion because the league failed to include certain terms he had initially been told would be part of the deal.
“This is the worst corporation in America, and everybody will find out how dishonest they are,” Sterling said in the crowded Los Angeles courtroom.
In particular, he alleged that the NBA told him his wife would own up to a quarter of the team: “That she would own 20, 25 percent was nothing but another lie by this terrible institution.”
Had the deal gone as it was initially proposed, Sterling responded to a question by his lawyer Max Blecher, he “probably” would have agreed to the sale.
“But make no mistake today, I will never, ever, ever sell this team, and until I die, I will be suing the NBA,” Sterling said in court.
He claimed the NBA and its commissioner Adam Silver pressured Shelly to see through the sale of the Clippers. “She thinks the NBA will take away everything she’s worked for,” Donald Sterling said. “Her motivation is that she was scared out of her mind. She couldn’t sleep, she cried every night.”
Sterling went on to accuse Silver, who took over from former commissioner David Stern in February, of being “one man trying to demonstrate, he’d been in office for 60 days…he was going to take a stand and say they don’t tolerate racism. But I’m not a racist, I love all people, but I was the poster boy. And that’s OK. We’ll see what happens.”
He was followed to the witness stand by Shelly Sterling, who declared her love for Donald, but says she was convinced he needed to be examined by a doctor for Alzheimer’s disease.
In his testimony, Sterling repeated that his wife had given him no indication that the neurological exams performed on him by two specialists would be used to deem him incapacitated and remove him from the Sterling Family Trust. She had told him only that they were checkups she wanted him to have because he had just turned 80, he said.
“She deceived me. I trusted her, I believed her. I never thought that a woman wouldn’t stand by her husband,” he said.
He also claimed that regardless of whether he was mentally incapacitated and removed from the trust, his wife would have no authority to manage the team. “She has no rights whatsoever. She made me a trustee, but she has no stock, she’s not a director,” he said, adding, “She has no authority to make such a sale.”
After Donald’s testimony, Shelly Sterling was questioned by her lawyer Pierce O’Donnell. She detailed how she was her husband’s caregiver and scheduled all his medical appointments and got all of his medicines for him. She set appointments for the neurological specialists to examine him after seeing his bizarre interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, after which she said: “I really didn’t know what was wrong, and I started getting quite a lot of emails and phone calls that said you should get him tests immediately, he’s not the person we know.”
However, Bert Fields, one of Shelly Sterling’s attorneys, said that Donald is “destructive, abusive” and “treats his wife like dirt.”
“To call her a pig shows how fundamentally insincere this guy is, saying he loves her, to fill you with all this sympathy,” Fields added.
NBA owners are scheduled to vote on the Ballmer deal July 15. It’s also the day that Ballmer’s offer is set to expire — and there is no deal without the judge’s approval of the sale.
If the sale isn’t completed by Sept. 15, the league said it could seize the team and put it up for auction.