US & Canada

Donald Sterling 'will never sell LA Clippers'

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling at a basketball game in LA, California on 10 January 2014
Image caption LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has vowed to block the sale with a lifetime of lawsuits against the NBA

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has said he will never sell the basketball team during heated exchanges in court.

Mr Sterling, 80, is contesting in court his wife Shelly's decision to sell the basketball team franchise to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Mr Ballmer wants the judge to confirm she can do so.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) said it wanted to force Mr Sterling to sell after he was recorded making racist remarks in April.

The court case in Los Angeles deals with allegations that Mrs Sterling used medical tests of his mental capacity to remove him as a trustee and deceive him into selling.

Image caption Shelly Sterling wants the judge to confirm she has the legal authority to sell the basketball franchise
Image caption Fans showed their support for the team after Donald Sterling's ban for life from the basketball league

In May, Mrs Sterling told her husband to seek an evaluation by two doctors, who declared him "mentally incapacitated" and unfit to administer his duties as trustee of the Sterling Family Trust.

This in effect handed her control of the Clippers.

Mrs Sterling told the court she had sent her husband for medical tests after seeing "frightening changes".

She was eventually told he had early signs of Alzheimer's, she said.

There were sharp exchanges in court as Mr Sterling insulted his estranged wife.

"Get away from me, you pig," he said, adding: "Shelly, how could you lie?"

From the witness box Mr Sterling then shouted: "I will never ever sell this team, and until I die I will be suing the NBA for this terrible violation."

Image caption The racism row erupted over comments Mr Sterling was recorded making to his girlfriend V Stiviano (left)

Mr Sterling argues he could raise more money than Mr Ballmer's $2bn (£1.2bn) offer by selling TV rights and winning an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA.

If the judge in Los Angeles rules Mrs Sterling acted unlawfully, the deal with Mr Ballmer could be invalidated and the sale of the franchise revoked.

The racism allegations led to the NBA fining Mr Sterling $2.5m and banning him from basketball for life.

In a 10-minute audio recording published on celebrity website TMZ in April, Mr Sterling was heard telling a woman, subsequently identified as his girlfriend V Stiviano, not to associate in public with black people nor bring them to Clippers games.

The remarks drew widespread condemnation from fans, retired basketball stars and President Barack Obama.

Mr Sterling is suing the NBA, alleging it violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an "illegal" recording.

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