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Combative Clippers' owner Donald Sterling comes out swinging at trial

LOS ANGELES -- A feisty Donald Sterling testified he was duped into taking two mental health exams that he said his wife used to try and strip him of ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Sterling displayed a wide range of emotions in court Tuesday, repeatedly clashing with veteran Hollywood lawyer for the stars, Bert Fields. But then other times he seemed on the verge of tears when talking about the NBA, saying “they are not good people.”

But the 80-year-old billionaire Sterling was most interested in sparring with the 85-year-old Fields, the lawyer for his estranged wife Shelly Sterling, who is seeking the authority to sell the National Basketball Association team.

“I thought you were going to make me cry. Isn't that what you said in the paper?” Sterling told Fields.

Sterling insists he doesn't want to sell the team because of “economic reasons,” claiming he could get up to US$5 billion in a sale for the team he has owned since 1981 and predicted an antitrust suit he launched against the NBA would net him US$9 billion.

The main issue the court must determine is whether Shelly Sterling properly removed her husband as a trustee of the family foundation that controls the Clippers. Shelly Sterling arranged for two medical exams that led to the determination that Donald Sterling was unfit to administer the trust.

The trial in Los Angeles Superior Court is expected to continue at least through Thursday, with Judge Michael Levanas to rule 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 and that one of the two neurologists he saw was too drunk to have conducted a proper exam.

Levanas also must decide whether Sterling's revocation of the trust on June 9 effectively cancels out Shelly Sterling's record US$2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

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In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling gestures while watching the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles. (AP)

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