On Monday afternoon Shelly Sterling received a more than favorable ruling in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
After a morning of final statements, Judge Michael Levenas ruled that Shelly Sterling did have the legal right to dictate matters of the family trust. Sterling had the authority to act on behalf of her husband Donald Sterling. Finally, Levenas’ ruling allows for completion of the $2 billion record sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The Clippers were sold by Shelly Sterling to Ballmer on May 29. Shelly initiated the auction and agreement to sell once Donald was found to be “mentally incapacitated.” According to the terms of the Sterling family trust, Donald’s mental diagnosis gave Shelly the authority to direct the sale without his signature.
However Donald Sterling sued Shelly in probate court. His main argument was that the neurological exam was conducted under false pretenses and did not accurately describe his mental state.
One huge win for the Clippers organization and its fans, the judge’s ruling was poetic justice. The tyrant who is Donald Sterling received a blow that will finally remove the Clippers from his clutches. They’ve suffered enough.
The NBA’s longest-tenured owner and most publicly revolting person in professional sports was dealt a loss so great and publicly humiliating it seemed like pay back for the decades of terror he beset on the Clippers from his court side owner seat.
Levenas seemed convinced of the “death spiral” picture painted by Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons. Insisting that the Clippers would suffer extreme loss in profitability if Donald was to remain as owner wasn’t propaganda.
The majority of the Clippers sponsors suspended or terminated their relationships with the organization merely days after a private conversation between Sterling and former girlfriend V. Stiviano surfaced. On the recording, Sterling could be heard making racist remarks aimed at African Americans as a whole and NBA legend Magic Johnson in particular.
Monday’s ruling will still allow for Donald to seek damages from the NBA, which he will likely pursue in a civil suit. However the ruling prevents him from being able to appeal the judge’s ruling. Levenas ruled that the trust’s 1310(b) clause was not just for life and death cases.
All in all the day’s events were more commonly referred to on the hardwood as a blowout victory for Shelly Sterling.
Donald Sterling’s lawyers made the attempt to make issue of the 1310(b) provision in the family trust, stipulating it was to only be applied in a life or death situation. Levenas did not take their claims into consideration, finally ruling that Shelly was well within her rights.
Although the trial garnered less media attention in previous weeks, Clippers players returned all eyeballs to the issue at hand. Most notably, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes all publicly expressed their intent to boycott in the event Donald Sterling remained as owner. They’re now free to get ready for training camp and the upcoming season. Sterling has no other recourse to maintain his ownership.
It’s the dawn of a new day for the Clippers. Completion of the sale to Ballmer will be a good morning to all who’ve suffered the penny pinching immoral, and vile ownership of Donald Sterling. In accordance to the adage “attitude reflects leadership,” the Clippers organization should have an attitude of independence.
Despite suffering a losing record for the bulk of its NBA life, the Clippers have had their share of highlights and successes. Donald Sterling being removed as owner is the single-greatest moment in Clippers history.
For the Clippers players, staff, and fans, there’s a weight that’s been lifted. Right now a new legacy starts for the Clippers. A new type of autonomy and accountability. Right now, the Clippers are solely responsible for their success. Only time will tell how far they’ll go.