Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will not support the sale of the team and will go forward with a federal lawsuit against the NBA.
Sterling’s attorney on Monday said his client would not approve the $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — a deal brokered by his wife, Shelly, a trustee of the team.
Last week, Sterling agreed to the sale and agreed to drop his $1 billion lawsuit. The 80-year-old billionaire real estate investor changed his mind after being informed that the National Basketball Association would not revoke his lifetime ban from the league and $2.5 million fine levied after a recording of racist comments he made to his girlfriend was made public. In the recorded conversation and in subsequent interviews, Sterling also mentioned Jewish issues.
In a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and others involved in the sale and the lawsuit obtained and published Monday by ESPN, Sterling said he was “extremely sorry for the hurtful statements I made privately. I made those statements in anger and out of jealousy all in the context of a private conversation. While this is not an excuse for the statements, like every other American, I never imagined that my private conversation would be made public.”
“The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans,” wrote Sterling, who is Jewish. “I love the team and have dedicated 33 years of my life to the organization. I intend to fight to keep the team.”
The sale of the Clippers would be the highest price ever paid for an NBA team. In 1981, Sterling paid $12.5 million for the then-San Diego Clippers.
Under terms of the deal, Shelly Sterling would be allowed to run a charitable foundation funded by 10 percent of the team’s sale, with Ballmer having the right to buy back the shares upon her death, according to The Associated Press.
Three-quarters of the league’s 29 owners must approve the sale to Ballmer.