Donald Sterling found to be mentally incapacitated, source says
LOS ANGELES — Two neurologists have deemed Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling to be mentally incapacitated, two sources with detailed knowledge of the situation told CNN on Friday.
Sterling’s lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, called the declaration a “vast overstatement,” and said the 80-year-old’s diagnosis was of a “modest mental impairment” or a “slowing down.”
Sterling, who was banned from the NBA in April over racist comments he made in a private conversation that was taped, is “far from being incapacitated,” Blecher told CNN.
The designation of “mentally incompetent” could factor in the sale of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.
According to one of the sources, there is a provision in the Sterling family trust that says if either Donald Sterling or his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, become mentally incapacitated, then the other becomes the sole trustee.
According to the source, this is why the deal reached to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was negotiated by Shelly Sterling.
Donald Sterling’s view on the impending sale of his team, Blecher said, is to look at the “whole situation.”
“He doesn’t want to fight with Shelly. That’s the bottom line,” he said.
Earlier Friday, Shelly Sterling confirmed that a deal has been reached for the sale of the Clippers.
She signed a binding contract to sell the basketball franchise to Ballmer for $2 billion.
Earlier, CNN had reported on the planned sale, citing sources familiar with the negotiations.
In April, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling over the racist comments and fined him $2.5 million. The move prompted the league’s other 29 owners to begin proceedings to strip the longtime owner and his wife of the team.
The sale will have to be approved at a NBA Board of Governors meeting. And the sale still may have to be approved by Donald Sterling, according to earlier comments by his attorney.
In a statement, the NBA said the commissioner’s preferred outcome from the beginning has been a voluntary sale. The NBA has been notified of the agreement, and is awaiting paperwork from Shelly Sterling.
Shelly Sterling praised Ballmer’s purchase.
“We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise,” she said in a statement. “I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”
If the deal goes through, it would be the largest sum paid for an NBA franchise. Last month, the Milwaukee Bucks, a team with a losing record in a small television market, sold for $550 million.
Ballmer is worth $20 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
“I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles,” Balmer said Friday.
Donald Sterling has been the controlling owner of the Clippers since buying the team in 1981 for $12 million.