The Los Angeles Clippers have distanced themselves considerably from disgraced owner Donald Sterling, whose bid to block the sale of the franchise was denied on Monday.
According to Billy Witz of The New York Times, probate court judge Michael Levanas ruled in favor of Sterling's wife, Shelly, who arranged for the Clippers to be sold for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. It marked the most expensive team sale in NBA history.
Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated outlined what transpired in Los Angeles and what it means moving forward:
Judge rules for Shelly Sterling and prevents Donald from appealing to keep team. Steve Ballmer will be next Clippers owner. Big win for NBA.— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) July 28, 2014
Shelly Sterling will remain with Clippers as "Owner Emeritus" and she'll run a team charity. Donald? He can watch Clippers games from home.— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) July 28, 2014
The league released an official statement on the matter, per NBA on ESPN:
NBA statement on today's probate court ruling in the Sterling case: pic.twitter.com/s0FcrFf5d1— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 28, 2014
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles captured Donald's initial reaction:
Donald Sterling's lawyer Bobby Samini said he talked to Donald after today's ruling. His reaction: "Keep fighting!"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 29, 2014
The Los Angeles Times' Nathan Fenno broke down the action as it was decided in real time, specifying what was at stake with the three issues being contested in court:
On first issue, Judge Levanas finds Shelly Sterling acted properly and as lone trustee when she agreed to sell Clippers to Steve Ballmer.— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) July 28, 2014
Up next: Donald's revocation of trust.— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) July 28, 2014
Second issue goes to Shelly. Trust owns Clippers and court has jurisdiction.— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) July 28, 2014
Judge grants 1310(b) request for Shelly Sterling. #Clippers— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) July 28, 2014
The ruling includes the unusual 1310(b) order that essentially renders any appeal by Donald Sterling meaningless.— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) July 28, 2014
Arash Markazi of ESPN logged quotes from Shelly Sterling and Max Blecher, Donald Sterling's high-profile attorney, along with the expected date that the Clippers sale will transpire:
Shelly Sterling is crying. "I'm just happy it's over. A great man will be taking over the team now."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 28, 2014
Max Blecher: "It goes without saying I'm disappointed."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 28, 2014
Shelly Sterling and Steve Ballmer's lawyers said they expect the sale of the Clippers to go through by Aug. 15.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 28, 2014
While Sterling may still try to appeal in hopes that Blecher can salvage whatever bit of his legacy he can, the sale will go on unimpeded.
In approximately two weeks' time, this Clippers controversy will finally come to a conclusion, at least by the looks of Monday's critical decision. Sterling's racist comments, which came to light in late April, initially ignited the turmoil, leading to a lifetime NBA ban dished out by new league commissioner Adam Silver.
Despite the unfortunate saga hanging over the team during the 2014 NBA playoffs, L.A. performed admirably in making it to the Western Conference semifinals amid the distractions. That bodes well for its success in the coming years, with All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the way alongside DeAndre Jordan.
Now, the Clippers organization can transition to this new era with a sense of relief and renewed positivity. There are plenty of highlights to be proud of, namely a talented roster, a strong coach in Doc Rivers and an official ownership change.
A massive shift is occurring in L.A. that may see the Clippers retain their spot as the best team in the city in the years to come, ahead of the struggling but storied Lakers franchise. The battle for hometown supremacy will be compelling to observe, and Clippers faithful can now rejoice, as they appear to have received some type of closure regarding Sterling and his ownership of the franchise.