LOS ANGELES — A judge ruled against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas sided with Sterling’s estranged wife Shelly Sterling, who burst into tears when the ruling was announced.
“I can’t believe it’s over. I feel good,” she said.
The judge said Shelly Sterling had negotiated a good deal for the Clippers and had the authority to remove her husband as a trustee of the trust that owns the team after two doctors determined he had signs of Alzheimer’s disease and was incapable of making business decisions.
Also under the ruling, Donald Sterling can’t delay the sale from going forward as he appeals the case.
Donald Sterling was not in court to hear the ruling. Bobby Samini, one of his lawyers, said Sterling reacted calmly to the ruling and told his lawyers they had to keep fighting on other fronts, an apparent reference to pending lawsuits Sterling has filed.
Shelly Sterling negotiated the sale of the team after the 80-year-old billionaire was banned by the NBA for making offensive remarks about blacks.
Donald Sterling claimed his wife had deceived him about the medical exams. He later revoked the trust after she negotiated the record-setting sales price, and his lawyers argued that his move killed the deal. They said the case didn’t belong in probate court because the trust had been dissolved.
Lawyer Pierce O’Donnell, who represents Shelly Sterling, called the ruling a “a great day for the family trust, the NBA and the entire NBA family.”
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement the league was pleased by the ruling and looked forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible.
The ruling Monday was tentative until the judge files it in writing.
AP special correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this story.