Shelly Sterling returned to a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday and insisted that her husband, Donald Sterling, had given her full authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers and was initially overjoyed by a $2 billion offer for the team, despite his later denials.On the fourth day of the probate court battle between the couple, she testified that Donald repeatedly asked for updates on the process and wanted the sale to take place before the NBA tried to force him out for his racist comments that were made public in April.Over the course of nearly 110 minutes on the stand, Shelly called herself Donald’s “only caregiver,” and said that when she asked her husband to undergo neurological exams in May, she had no other motive except concern for his health. Donald Sterling — who had called his wife a “pig” the day before after his own testimony — did not appear in court on Thursday.Outside the courthouse afterward, her attorney Pierce O’Donnell tried to cast her as the “heroine” of the entire saga — one that has seen Donald Sterling forced out of the NBA, issue statements vacillating between whether or not to consent to a sale, and on June 9, revoke the Sterling Family Trust entirely. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error After Silver told her he would only consent to a 100 percent sale of the team, Donald was still amenable. “He was nice,” Shelly said of her husband. “He was really nice. He was on the same page as I was.”Shelly Sterling said Donald’s main concern was to stop sale of the team by the NBA. He wanted Shelly to negotiate the sale before a June 3 Board of Governors meeting that could have terminated their stake in the team.“He knew they were going to vote us out,” she said.During cross-examination of Shelly, attorney Maxwell Blecher countered by trying to outline the “secret Plan B” that Donald’s legal team had referenced this entire week. They allege that the exams were done purely as a plan to oust Donald, and were thus not legitimate under the trust.Blecher asked Shelly Sterling if she was aware that her attorneys had discussed Dr. Meril Platzer’s examination of Donald through emails in late May, calling Platzer’s concern regarding doctor-patient confidentiality a “headache.” Shelly said she had no idea.Adding that her only concern was Donald’s health, she said she was even unaware of the trust’s removal provision until May 29, when Donald suddenly protested the sale by “screaming and yelling and cussing.” It was then that her attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, showed her they could potentially remove him.Shelly added that there had been discussion of the NBA potentially lowering Donald’s lifetime ban to a one-year ban and two-year probation — which contradicts statements from both Silver and an NBA spokesperson.Silver said in a June 8 press conference that there was “no possibility” that either the $2.5 million fine or the lifetime ban would be reduced.Shelly said it was Donald who scuttled the possibility. According to her testimony, Silver asked for a list of what terms Donald wanted in a potential sale agreement. When Shelly relayed the request through Donald’s attorney, Donald refused.Instead, he doubled down on his fight.“Do you think the other owners were happy when he called them monsters and was going to find dirt on them?” Shelly said.No additional court hearing is scheduled Friday. With Blecher taking a planned vacation next week, the trial will reconvene July 21 at 8:30 a.m. Testimony will continue through July 22, with closing arguments set to begin on July 28 at 1:30 p.m.Although that pushes a potential sale of the Clippers past the previous July 15 deadline, Ballmer’s attorney Adam Streisand said an extension to Aug. 15 is enacted if the two parties are making “material progress.” The NBA Board of Governors had also originally been scheduled to meet July 15 and vote on whether to approve the sale. But the deadline before the NBA would move to seize control of the team is Sept. 15. The current probate trial, overseen by Judge Michael Levanas, is set to determine three issues: whether Shelly has the post-revocation authority to close the sale as part of the “winding down” of the trust’s affairs; whether Donald Sterling was properly deemed a non-trustee; and whether or not, assuming a ruling in her favor, Shelly can proceed with a sale regardless of the result of appeal.One new wrinkle Shelly Sterling introduced in her Thursday testimony was that the Sterling Family Trust had $500 million in outstanding bank loans. When the trust was revoked, the banks recalled the loans. With the trust unable to afford the $500 million, Shelly said she needed to sell property.The $2 billion offer for the Clippers from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Shelly said, was “the very, very best possible price” — topping bids of $1.2 billion, $1.5 billion and $1.62 billion. She also called Ballmer “the best person” to own the team, and said she would have sold to him for less. Ballmer’s attorney Adam Streisand jokingly objected and asked to call his client.On May 22, attorney Douglas Walton had signed a letter that “authorizes Rochelle Sterling to negotiate with the National Basketball Association regarding all issues in connection with a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers team.” Donald also signed the letter, but his attorneys now contend that it only granted Shelly right to negotiate — not to close the deal.Shelly Sterling’s testimony offered a different picture. During the bidding and negotiation process, she said Donald repeatedly asked her for updates. She said her husband was aware of her May 13 meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and that he told her, “Please come back and give me some good news.”
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