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Donald Sterling: I Will 'Never, Ever, Ever' Sell the Clippers

In courtroom testimony today , he claims his wife Shelly deceived him.

Donald Sterling. Patch file photo.
Donald Sterling. Patch file photo.

By FRED SHUSTER
City News Service

Donald Sterling testified today that he was "deceived" by his wife in her effort to have him declared mentally incapacitated so she could sell the Los Angeles Clippers, and he defiantly proclaimed that he will "never, ever, ever" sell the franchise.

The often-outspoken and combative Sterling later prompted chaos in the courtroom when his wife approached him after testifying, and Sterling yelled, "Get away from me, you pig!"

The outburst visibly shocked Shelly Sterling, who scurried back to her seat. It also prompted a quick response from sheriff's deputies, who stood next to Donald Sterling. When court adjourned for the day, deputies cleared spectators from the courtroom gallery, leaving the Sterlings sitting on opposite sides of the room with their attorneys. Both eventually left court without further incident -- Donald Sterling through a rear entrance and Shelly through the courtroom door.

On the stand prior to the outburst, Donald Sterling testified his wife doesn't understand the terms of the family trust that owns the team and was lied to by NBA officials in an effort to force him out of the league.

The non-jury trial is being held to determine if Shelly Sterling has the authority to sell the Clippers under the terms of the family trust.

"My wife, my beautiful wife, wouldn't know what's in the trust," he said. "She didn't read the trust. The trust is complicated."

Sterling lashed out at Shelly Sterling for having him examined by two doctors in an attempt to sell the team -- leading to a proposed $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

"She deceived me," the 80-year-old Sterling said. "I trusted her. I believed in her."

He later said his wife "has no rights whatsoever. She doesn't have the authority to make any decisions of sale."

He added, "I will never, ever, ever sell the team. And until I die, I will be suing the NBA."

Sterling was again combative while being questioned by Shelly Sterling's attorney, Bert Fields. Fields only asked a handful of questions before Sterling's own attorney took over questioning.

Shelly Sterling, who took the stand late in the day, said her husband's disposition had recently changed. She said he has "become forgetful."

"He's slurring his words," she said. "He's agitated a lot. He gets made for no particular reason. He's just not the same person."

The Superior Court proceedings are focusing on whether Donald Sterling was induced into undergoing mental examinations by two doctors without being told the reason.

But there will be no rebuttal testimony from Donald Sterling's attorneys challenging the findings by two doctors that he was mentally incapacitated, which his wife maintains gave her authority to sell the team. One doctor found Sterling to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

The trial will also deal with whether Donald Sterling's June 9 revocation of the family trust that held the Clippers had any impact on the proposed sale. Shelly Sterling's lawyers maintain the $2 billion offer from Ballmer was already accepted by their client and that her husband's actions were meaningless.

In opening statements, another of Shelly Sterling's attorneys, Pierce O'Donnell, said Donald Sterling willingly underwent the neurological exams that found him to be incapacitated.

O'Donnell said Shelly Sterling complied with the terms of a family trust when she made the deal with Ballmer and that Donald Sterling changed his mind after originally agreeing to the deal.

Donald Sterling's attorney, Gary Ruttenberg, countered that Shelly Sterling's attorneys are improperly using confidential medical information -- "fruit of the poisonous tree" that should be excluded from court consideration. He also said the NBA is complicit in Shelly Sterling's actions.

Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life earlier this year following the public release of recorded conversations between him and frequent courtside companion V. Stiviano. Sterling is heard on the tape disparaging Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people and telling her not to bring them to Clippers games.

The league announced plans to force Sterling to sell the team. But he has since filed suit against the NBA, alleging violations of his civil rights. He contends that he was recorded illegally while making emotional remarks during a "lovers' quarrel" with Stiviano.

Attorneys for Shelly Sterling have been pushing to get a ruling from Levanas prior to a scheduled July 15 meeting of the NBA Board of Governors. But Levanas said it was unlikely the case would be resolved by then.

Shelly Sterling's attorneys said they plan to rest their portion of the case when she finishes her testimony Thursday. But Donald Sterling's attorneys said they have a lengthy list of witnesses to call.

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