Apr 27, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling (left) smiles with Anne Roeser (right), wife of former Los Angeles Clippers president Andy Roeser (not pictured), courtside during the fourth quarter in game four of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 118-97. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Sterling Trial Ruling: Shelly Sterling Wins On All Counts, Ballmer Sale A Go

Judge Michael Levanas ruled in state court Monday in favor of Shelly Sterling’s sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

After two weeks of trial (and one week of recess in between), both sides made their closing arguments before Shelly Sterling got the ruling she and the NBA were hoping for.

Though she won in a landslide decision, Shelly Sterling said outside the courthouse that she expects the NBA to one day lift Donald Sterling’s ban.

In an oral statement of his decision that took 30 minutes, Judge Levanas ruled on a number of individual points of contention:

  • There was no credible evidence of an orchestrated “Plan B” to remove Donald Sterling from the trust, Shelly’s motives were legitimate.

  • The two doctors used to assess Donald Sterling, Meril Platzer and James Spar, were both credible despite Platzer’s meeting with Shelly at the Polo Lounge for a drink after analyzing Donald

    • Shelly orchestrated the Clippers sale appropriately, including through Donald’s change of heart on May 29

    • In short:

      • Up next came Donald Sterling’s revocation of the trust, which he argued gave him sole authority to sell the team.

        • Another victory for Shelly Sterling.

        • With few surprises through the first two issues, Round 3 concerning Donald’s ability to appeal was perhaps the most important and most up in the air.

          • Judge Levanas bought Clippers CEO Dick Parsons’ “death spiral” argument, finishing off the rulings Shelly Sterling and the NBA were looking for.

          The decisions mean her sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will proceed. But the process remains on egg shells as Levanas’ decision isn’t set in stone.

          That, coupled with Donald Sterling’s lawsuit against Shelly Sterling and the NBA, mean the “Sterling situation” could be far from over. This comes as no surprise, as Donald Sterling has made clear his intention to drag out the process as long as possible in hopes of forcing a league takeover of the Clippers franchise.

          As it became evident throughout trial proceedings that Sterling would lose the team one way or another, his opportunity to exact revenge in the form of damages lawsuits required the NBA to vote sterling out and facilitate the sale itself.

          Shelly Sterling and her lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, requested at the end of proceedings last week that Judge Levanas make an appeal-proof ruling in order to prevent further delays.

          She got her wish. Though the NBA season should begin with both Doc Rivers and Chris Paul playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, we haven’t seen the last of Donald Sterling.


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          Tags: Chris Paul Doc Rivers Donald Sterling Shelly Sterling Steve Ballmer

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