As Dick Parsons, the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers, testified in state court Tuesday about the uncertain future of the team, he outlined an accelerated "death spiral" for the Clippers if Donald Sterling were to remain the owner.
"If none of your sponsors want to sponsor you," Parsons said. "And your coach doesn't want to coach for you and your players don’t want to play for you, what do you have?"
Parsons wasn’t just hypothesizing about losing sponsors, coaches and players if Sterling remained the owner. He testified that he has talked to many of the parties involved and they have told him their commitment to the team is only as strong as the team’s commitment to moving forward without Sterling.
"We're in so long as Donald Sterling is out," Parsons said when describing his conversation with several sponsors that have yet to commit to the team for the upcoming season.
LOS ANGELES -- Donald Sterling filed a suit in Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon seeking damages from the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver and his wife Shelly Sterling alleging they defrauded him and violated corporate law in attempting to sell the franchise to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Sterling asked for an injunction to freeze the $2 billion sale, arguing that that his wife had no authority to sell the franchise because he is the sole owner and shareholder on the corporation which owns the Clippers after he revoked the Sterling Family Trust on June 9.
"The new lawsuit states the seller of the team is not Donald and it's not Shelly -- the seller of the team is the corporation that owns the team, and that's LAC Basketball Club Inc.," Donald Sterling attorney Bobby Samini said Tuesday. "When Donald bought the team, the shares of the corporation are only in Donald's name. They were only issued to Donald, so Donald owns the shares of the corporation. He's the sole shareholder.
"He put the shares up into the trust in 1989, and when we revoked the trust, the shares go back down to him."
The NBA said it had no comment on Sterling's latest lawsuit.
Shelly Sterling's attorney Pierce O'Donnell called the latest lawsuit "a frivolous, last ditch act of desperation by a delusional, bitter man" who is "obsessed with ruining a record-setting $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers -- a sale that would solve the problems his racist rant started three months ago."
The new lawsuit comes as testimony in a trial in California probate court continued Tuesday to determine whether Shelly Sterling acted properly in selling the team to Ballmer.
LOS ANGELES -- The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers testified in state court Tuesday afternoon that coach and team president Doc Rivers has told him on multiple occasions that he doesn't think he wants to continue as coach if Donald Sterling remains owner of the team.
Dick Parsons said he's talked to Rivers, several players and key sponsors who are troubled by Sterling's continued ownership of the franchise, which is being adjudicated in a California probate court.
At issue is whether Shelly Sterling acted properly in selling the franchise for a record $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, without her husband's expressed consent. Parsons was called as a witness in the trial Tuesday to discuss the impact the continuing uncertainty over the ownership situation has had on the Clippers franchise.
"If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster," Parsons said. "Doc is the father figure of the team. Chris (Paul) is the on-court captain of the team. But Doc is really the guy who leads the effort. He's the coach, the grown-up, he's a man of character and ability -- not just in a basketball sense, but in the ability to connect with people and gain their trust. "The team believes in him and admires and loves him. If he were to bail, with all the other circumstances, it would accelerate the death spiral."
Sterling's lawyers objected to Parsons' testimony on Rivers, arguing that only Rivers should be allowed to speak on his state of mind in this matter, and if that was the case, Rivers should be called as a witness. While Judge Michael Levanas agreed with that notion, he allowed Parsons to express his opinion on the matter and noted he would not consider it as fact.
"I don't understand why they didn't call Doc Rivers and the players they want to call to give that testimony," Sterling's lawyer Bobby Samini said. "I understand Mr. Parsons had an opinion about what might happen, but they could've easily brought those individuals in to give that testimony themselves."
Samini also cast doubt on some of Parsons more dire predictions about the Clippers financial stability if Sterling remained as owner.
"I understand; I'm just not seeing the sinkhole out here swallowing us all up," he said. "But that was the testimony Mr. Parsons gave."
Parsons said that while ticket revenue was essentially the same as last season's, many of the team's 20 to 22 sponsors have said have made it clear they only want to continue a relationship with the team if Sterling is replaced as owner.
Parsons cited Mandalay Bay and Kia Motors as examples of sponsors who are "sitting at the edge of the pool and don't want to go in the water unless there is resolution" on the ownership situation.
Parsons said during cross-examination that only six or seven sponsors had explicitly asked to be disassociated from the Clippers following the scandal that enveloped the team after Sterling's racially insensitive comments were published by TMZ.com on April 25.
The team gave the remaining two-thirds "a holiday" before they felt compelled to disassociate from the franchise.
Parsons said losing Rivers would be "a disaster" that would "accelerate the death spiral" for the franchise.
"If none of your sponsors want to sponsor you, your coach doesn't want to coach you, and players don't want to play for you, what do you have?" Parsons said.
Parsons and Bank of America expert Anwar Zakkour testified that the $2 billion price Ballmer agreed to pay for the franchise was much higher than the team's revenues justified under the most aggressive and optimistic predictions.
"Whether you want to call it a slam dunk or a home run, none of us believed that we would get to the $2 billion," said Zakkour, who helped conduct the hurried sale. "None of us even believed we'd get to the $1.8 billion number, so that says it now."
Zakkour warned that if the sale fell through and the NBA restarted termination proceedings, there was significant risk the franchise would sell for far less.
"I think there is a significant risk," Zakkour said. "There are two things in my profession that are bad when you sell a franchise: Uncertainty and transparency.
"I think there's been a lot of press speculation that he paid a very full price for the Clippers. The highest price ever achieved for a sports team, when you focus on just the sports team."
Zakkour mentioned that the Los Angeles Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling's properties said Monday that the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.
Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of The Sterling Family Trust, testified Monday that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust. His move was designed to rescind his signed agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for $12 million.
Schield said if Sterling has to dump $500 million worth of apartment buildings he could destabilize the Los Angeles real estate market.
Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher suggested that Sterling could take the company public in order to raise funds.
But Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, asked if it would be easy to go public "with Donald Sterling's reputation."
Schield responded: "There's huge reputation issues. I don't know if anyone would want to go into partnership with him."
The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life for making racist statements after the release of recorded conversations. Sterling has denied he is a racist from the witness stand.
Schield testified in the probate trial that if Sterling's loans go into default and he needs to refinance, banks would be reluctant to give him that much money at the low rate he has now.
"I know the bank looks at this as a higher credit risk with all this going on," he said. "The rate would go up considerably."
Sterling, the volatile owner of the team, agreed to the sale but then dissolved the family trust in an effort to stop it.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling met with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles to discuss the pending $2 billion sale of the franchise, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.
Although no settlement was reached, sources said the two men had a "friendly conversation" for about 90 minutes at Sterling's house in Beverly Hills in their first face-to-face meeting since Ballmer negotiated the record-setting sale with Shelly Sterling on May 29.
Donald Sterling has since challenged his wife's authority to sell the franchise in state court.
Last week NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he wasn't sure a new owner would be in place by the start of next season, as Donald Sterling has vowed to fight his termination and the sale of the team.
The original agreement called for the sale to close by July 15, with a possible extension to Aug. 15. The NBA has the option of resuming termination proceedings and subsequently selling the team itself if the sale is still in limbo by Sept. 15.
The meeting was arranged Sunday night after a three-hour meeting earlier in the day between Donald and Shelly Sterling, sources said.
Donald Sterling had been preparing to file a new suit in state court on Monday morning before he and his wife spoke at length Sunday night at his house.
He then asked to meet with Ballmer after the meeting with Shelly Sterling and a meeting with his attorney, sources said.
While Sterling famously called his wife "a pig" after she testified in the civil case against him two weeks ago, he was emotional when speaking about his love for her during his own testimony.
Shelly Sterling is due to testify again in the civil suit between the Sterlings on Tuesday. At issue in that case is whether she was authorized to sell the franchise to Ballmer.
LOS ANGELES -- A lawyer for the man offering to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion told a judge Friday that Donald Sterling's stalling tactics are threatening to doom the sale by pushing it past a contractual deadline.
At a hearing to set parameters for the rest of a probate trial, attorney Adam Streisand implored the judge to make a swift decision when hearings conclude July 28.
He said the final deadline for closing the deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was extended by a month, but "the deal ends on Aug. 15."
A month later, the NBA can seize the team and sell it at auction, Streisand said.
Sterling has vowed he'll never sell the team and is suing to block his wife's single-handed deal to do so after the NBA banned him for life for making racist statements. He has denied he is a racist from the witness stand.
Streisand said a ruling in favor of Shelly Sterling would set off lengthy appeals that also could stop the sale. Outside court, he said Donald Sterling's refusal to sell the team is "a suicide mission by a madman."
In spite of the looming deadlines, Sterling's attorney, Gary Ruttenberg, who weighed in by phone, asked to further delay proceedings, insisting, "This case has been railroaded on a bullet train."
Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas disagreed and said the schedule was clear from the beginning. When Ruttenberg asked for time to obtain review of that ruling from an appellate court, the judge said curtly, "That's denied."
Levanas also barred Sterling's lawyers from calling opposing counsel to the witness stand. He also rejected a bid to strike the testimony and reports of two doctors who found the 80-year-old has Alzheimer's disease and is incapable of acting as administrator of the family trust that owns the Clippers. Their finding is what opened the door for Shelly Sterling to broker the team's sale.
Davis' deal is for one season at the veteran minimum of $1.2 million. It's a slight pay cut from the $1.4 million he was due to make next season with the Clippers before he opted out with the hopes of signing a more lucrative, long-term deal. At the end of last season, Davis said his preference was to return to the Clippers.
Davis came to the Clippers after the trade deadline on Feb. 24, when the Orlando Magic bought out the veteran power forward from the final two years and $12.6 million left on his contract.
The move reunited Davis with Doc Rivers, who coached him with the Boston Celtics from 2007 to '11, including on the 2008 championship team.
Davis played in 23 regular-season games with the Clippers, averaging 4.2 points and 3 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game during the postseason.
Davis also made headlines on March 29 when Rivers sent him back to the locker room when the two exchanged words after the coach benched him during a game against the Houston Rockets. The two downplayed the incident after the game.