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NBA owners to vote on US$2 bil. sale of Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- The NBA has called off a hearing to oust embattled Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling in advance of a vote on a potentially record-breaking deal negotiated by his wife Shelly Sterling to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for US$2 billion.

Shelly Sterling negotiated the deal despite objections expressed through her estranged husband Donald Sterling's attorneys. She said in a statement late Thursday that she agreed to sell the team to Ballmer “under her authority as the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers.”

The NBA said in a statement Friday that the league, Shelly Sterling and The Sterling Family Trust had “resolved their dispute over the ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.”

“Under the agreement, the Clippers will be sold to Steve Ballmer, pending approval by the NBA Board of Governors, and the NBA will withdraw its pending charge to terminate the Sterlings' ownership of the team,” it said.

But Donald Sterling is still fighting, filing a lawsuit in federal court against the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver and asking for damages in excess of US$1 billion.

The suit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. It alleges that the league violated Sterling's constitutional rights by relying on information from an “illegal” recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend.

It also says the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling US$2.5 million and violated antitrust laws by forcing a sale.

“Mr. Sterling's lawsuit is predictable, but entirely baseless,” NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan said. “Among other infirmities, there was no “forced sale” of his team by the NBA — which means his antitrust and conversion claims are completely invalid. Since it was his wife, Shelly Sterling, and not the NBA that has entered into an agreement to sell the Clippers, Mr. Sterling is complaining about a set of facts that doesn't even exist.”

The NBA had been prepared for a lawsuit, saying in its statement that “Mrs. Sterling and the Trust also agreed not to sue the NBA and to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling.”

Donald Sterling Fighting

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