“I Never Ever Thought This Would Happen”: Shelly Sterling Back on Stand in Trial Over Clippers Deal

The trial's fireworks have included several outbursts by the Clippers owner directed at his wife, the NBA and attorneys for both sides

Shelly Sterling returned to the stand Thursday and defended her attempts to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after two days of listening to her husband berate her and the NBA at the trial to determine whether she was within her rights when she negotiated the team's sale.

"I never thought he would sue me for doing something he asked me to do," she said during testimony. "I never, ever thought this would happen."

In a surprise revelation, Shelly testified NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offered to reduce her husband's lifetime ban to one year with two years probation if he'd agree to sell the team. But the offer went away when he called the other owners "monsters" and hired investigators to dig up dirt on them.

"I think the problem is the duplicity of the NBA," Sterling's lawyer Bobby Samini said. "They're out there out front beating their chest, 'We're going to do this, we're going to ostracize you,' but behind the scenes there are different discussions going on."

Shelly also testified her husband knew every step of her negotiations for the sale of the Clippers and said he was happy with the $2 billion deal before changing his tune the next day.

"(He was) screaming, cussing, saying he's not going to sign," she said, adding that she would've still chosen "fabulous" ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer "even if his bid was less."

"It was not only good for the league, players and sponsors but also good for the city," she said of the sale.

"My fear was players wouldn't play. They would sit down and have a strike. Sponsors wouldn't sponsor. There would be no team left," Shelly said before confronting her husband's attorney, Max Blecher.

"You even said it was a good idea to sell the team and resolve the situation, and don't deny it!" she said.

Later, Blecher asked Shelly what made her think her husband was unstable. "The last three years of our marriage," she replied.

Donald Sterling has defended himself in spirited style from accusations during the trial that he is mentally incompetent. The NBA's longest-tenured owner has vowed to sue the league and even shouted at his own lawyer Wednesday.

Donald Sterling's lawyers are challenging the authority of Shelly Sterling under the family trust to unilaterally cut a $2 billion deal for the team with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Before she made the deal, two doctors examined Donald Sterling and declared him mentally incapacitated and unable to act as an administrator of the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers.

The trial, initially expected to last four days and end Thursday, is a key step in a process that might determine whether the sale Shelly Sterling negotiated with ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can go through. She negotiated the sale in the wake of the NBA's move to oust her husband as owner because of racist comments he made during a recorded conversation with a companion.

Donald Sterling's lawyers indicated Thursday that more witness testimony is necessary, but that they cannot return to court until July 21 because of personal plans. So Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas put off the next hearing and scheduled further sessions that will culminate with closing arguments on July 28.

NBA owners are scheduled to vote on the Ballmer deal on Tuesday. It's also the day that Ballmer's offer is set to expire -- and there is no deal without the judge's approval of the sale.

His attorney, Adam Streisand, said outside court that there's a provision to extend that date to Aug. 15 as long as progress is being made in court.

If the sale isn't completed by Sept. 15, the league said it could seize the team and put it up for auction.


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