A PYMNTS Company

US: Sterling sues the NBA in bizarre twist

 |  June 1, 2014

The disgraced former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA over the basketball association’s decision to force a sale of the team.

Donald Sterling was forced to sell the Clippers and pay a $2.5 million fine after reports emerged of his alleged racist remarks. Sterling soon hired high-profile antitrust lawyer Maxwell Blecher, prompting rumor of an antitrust lawsuit headed the NBA’s way.

Now, reports say, just minutes before the NBA announced it reached a settlement with Sterling’s wife and Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling to sell the team, Sterling announced last Friday he is suing the NBA, its Commissioner Adam Silver, and the Sterling Family Trust, seeking $1 billion in damages.

According to reports, the lawsuit challenges the NBA’s handling of the matter, including its decision to ban Sterling for life from the association. The complaint claims the NBA’s basis for its actions against Sterling – secret recordings of the alleged racist remarks made by the Clippers owner – were a breach of privacy.

But experts are slamming the lawsuit, saying it has no basis in antitrust. The NBA had originally ruled that Sterling must sell the Clippers, but the rights to the team were fully handed over to his wife, who reached an agreement to sell the team; those events mean the NBA did not impose a forced sale on Donald Sterling.

NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan told reporters that Sterling’s lawsuit is “predictable, but entirely baseless.”

The news of the lawsuit came the same day reports emerged that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reached a deal to acquire the Clippers team for $2 billion, a record in NBA team sales, reports say.

Experts have slammed Sterling’s lawsuit as quite bizarre. One expert, Tulane University sports law program director Gabe Feldman, told reporters he wished he “could find a word to describe how strange it is. We’ve gone from uncharted territory to ludicrous territory at this point.”

Full content: Baltimore Sun

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.