Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling may file a lawsuit against the NBA and its commissioner, Adam Silver, as early as Thursday, according to an attorney for the embattled billionaire.
The lawsuit was being prepared even as reports surfaced that as many as five bidders were willing to offer up to $2 billion for the franchise, which is owned by the Sterling family trust. Donald and Shelly Sterling each own 50 percent of the team.
Despite efforts by the NBA and Shelly Sterling to expedite the sale of the Clippers, a lawyer for Donald Sterling said his client is determined to retain ownership of the franchise.
“He tells me, as of 4 o’clock, the answer is no,” attorney Max Blecher said Wednesday, when asked if Sterling would agree to a sale.
A draft of the legal complaint, which was shown to a reporter during an interview, cites alleged breach of contract and anti-trust violations by the NBA. The lawsuit also demands a jury trial for Sterling, who was banned for life by the league earlier this month and fined $2.5 million for making racist remarks in a recorded conversation.
“He gave me marching orders and said: ‘Yield no quarter. Fight … to the bloody end,’” Blecher told KTLA.
The NBA’s “charges are complete baloney,” Blecher added. “The one they might have had an argument about — the one about making a statement that was harmful to the interests of the league – is preceded by the word ‘willfully.’ And they know he didn’t do this willfully.”
Renowned sports agent Leigh Steinberg is one of many who believe a sale of the Clippers would be in the team’s best interest.
“Sterling’s saga gets curiouser and curiouser,” Steinberg said. “But the opportunity the Clippers have is to finally retake a fair share of Los Angeles sports fans.”
Shelly Sterling is reportedly attempting to capitalize on that opportunity. She met with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last weekend at her home in Malibu, where the prospective buyer made an aggressive offer, a source told CNN.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Wednesday expressed his support for Ballmer’s bid.
“The Clippers would be so fortunate to get Steve Ballmer as owner,” Carroll said on Twitter. “He’s a great competitive force & would bring big energy to the LAC fanbase.”
Pierce O’Donnell, an attorney representing Shelly Sterling, told USA Today that Donald Sterling had made a written agreement with his estranged wife to sell the franchise.
“Donald Sterling has authorized Shelly Sterling in writing to negotiate the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, including his 50 percent ownership of the team. Shelly is managing the sale of the Clippers,” O’Donnell said. “While no formal offers have yet been received, Shelly and the NBA are working cooperatively on the transaction.”
The newspaper published a 32-page document — titled “Donald Sterling’s Answer to Charge” and dated May 27 — in which the Clippers’ owner formally responded to the league’s efforts to oust him.
“Donald Sterling and LAC Basketball Club, Inc. deny generally and specifically every allegation in the charge and specifically deny that any lawful grounds exist to terminate the membership of LAC Basketball Club, Inc. in the NBA,” the document states.
The NBA has scheduled a special June 3 meeting of the Board of Governors for a vote on the matter.
“One way or another, by this coming Tuesday midnight we will have an end to the Sterling saga,” Steinberg said.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the amount of the NBA’s fine against Sterling. The article has been updated to reflect the change.
KTLA’s Christina Pascucci and CNN’s Brian Todd and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.