Sterling drama is careening toward a possible last act

Thumbnail image for donald-sterling-cnn-grab.jpgOn the one hand, Shelly Sterling has been meeting in Malibu with high-roller prospective buyers of the Clippers, armed with what her attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, says is written authorization from Donald Sterling to sell his half. That's according to the Los Angeles Times, which names three main possible bidders for the Clippers: Guggenheim Partners in partnership with David Geffen, Oprah Winfrey and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison; another group that includes ex-player Grant Hill and Bruce Karsh, currently chairman of LA Times parent Tribune; and former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer, who met with Shelly Sterling on Sunday and vows not to move the team to Seattle. One of the prospective buyers told the Times, "We will probably know who bought the team by Friday."

On the other hand...Donald Sterling filed a strongly worded defense against the NBA charges the league plans to use to vote him out next week — what he calls "the illegal termination process." His deadline to file was today. In the document put up by the Times, Sterling says the NBA is relying on words he said in a private, jealousy-fueled lovers quarrel that was recorded illegally and never intended to be heard by anyone. The document posits that no court would ban him for life, impose a $2.5 million fine and force him to sell the team for something said in private to a lover. The woman, V Stiviano, denies by the way that they were lovers. Sterling also says he has received offers as high as $2.5 billion for the team.

From the Times story:

Shelly Sterling is trying to sell the Clippers in advance of a Tuesday deadline, when the 30 pro basketball teams will vote on whether to strip control of the team from both of the Sterlings, in response to Donald Sterling's racially charged remarks about blacks....

The whirlwind series of events suggested a potentially rapid resolution to a scandal that appeared as if it might drag on for months or years, though people close to the NBA cautioned that the sale of the team is far from complete and eventually must be approved by the other owners.

The potential price tag for the Clippers and the field of interested parties came into focus Tuesday, with one likely bidder saying that the team would certainly go for well over $1 billion. That would be the highest sale price in NBA history, topping the $550 million sale of the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this month.

There's also now speculation that Shelley is letting go of her desire to remain an NBA co-owner and instead will be satisfied with season tickets and a preferred parking pass — plus the many millions she would get from a sale.

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