A California appeals court upheld the forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team over the objections of owner Donald Sterling to Steven Ballmer in 2014.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) imposed a lifetime ban on Sterling from the Clippers after a taperecording surfaced in which he made remarks deeply offensive, demeaning and discriminatory toward African Americans, Latinos and minorities in general.
The ban forced the sale of the clippers by Sterling’s wife Rochelle, over Donald’s vigorous objections. Donald’s refusal to sign the sale agreement cause Rochelle to remove him as a trustee and to file a petition in probate court seeking confirmation of his removal and the forced sale of the team.
The probate court agreed with Rochelle and Monday a state Court of Appeal panel upheld that ruling.
The NBA also fined Donald $2.5 million along with the ban from the league. Nonetheless, after his comments were made public it was feared by new team management that fans would stop buying tickets if he continued as owner and the team would enter a “death spiral.”
Ballmer, a former executive at Microsoft, offered to pay $2 billion to buy the team, more than $400 million more than the next highest bidder.
The evidence “overwhelmingly supported the probate court’s conclusion that exigent circumstances warranted the sale of the Clippers to prevent extraordinary loss of trust,” the appeals court said.
In addition to the Clippers, the Sterling family trust controlled $2.5 billion, including 150 apartment buildings with 20,000 tenants, 15 residential properties , land and a hotel.
Case: Sterling v. Sterling, No. B258151