Published February 05, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - Donald Sterling has apparently backed out of a planned deal to sell the Los Angeles Clippers and will pursue his lawsuit against the NBA.
According to ESPN.com and other media outlets, Sterling's attorney, Max Blecher, says he was instructed by Sterling to withdraw his support for a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The apparent change of heart came one day after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Sterling still had a pending lawsuit against the league and him personally, despite the announcement last Wednesday that Sterling agreed to sign off on the sale.
Silver, speaking Sunday before Game 2 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio, said the lawsuit was the only remaining obstacle to the deal that Sterling's wife, Shelly, had agreed to two weeks ago with Ballmer.
"I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling, she agreed to indemnify the league against a lawsuit by her husband," Silver said.
"So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that. While I understand he is frustrated, I think it's over. I think it's just a matter of time now, and then we will move on to better topics and back to the Finals."
A statement last week from another Silver attorney, Bobby Samini, said the Sterlings had agreed to sell to Ballmer for $2 billion "and various additional benefits."
"All disputes and outstanding issues have been resolved," said the statement, signaling an impending end to the saga that led Silver to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million over racist comments.
Silver, when he punished Sterling in April, had said he would encourage the league's other owners to vote to strip Sterling of his ownership in the team he bought in 1981 for $12.5 million.
A scheduled June 3 meeting of the NBA's Board of Governors was canceled after Sterling announced he would agree to the Ballmer sale.
In a response May 27 to the NBA's formal charge to terminate his ownership in the Clippers, Sterling called the league's attempts to take the team away a "sham" and said Silver's punishments amounted to "draconian penalties" that wouldn't be enforced by any court.
Audio of Sterling urging a female acquaintance not to bring black people to Clippers games and disparaging Magic Johnson was first published in April by TMZ.
The comments sent shockwaves through the league and led to a protest from Clippers players, who dropped warmup jackets at midcourt before a playoff game and practiced with their shirts turned inside-out to hide the team's logo.
Sterling said the NBA was attempting to strip his ownership of the Clippers over what he called illegally recorded remarks made during a "lovers' quarrel."