Clippers CEO, Shelly Sterling expected to testify

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Richard Parsons, the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers, is due to step into the battle of billionaires in probate court over the proposed sale of the NBA team.

Parsons, once known as “Mr. Fixit” in the business world during his tenure as CEO of Time Warner and Citigroup, is expected to be called as a witness Tuesday to support Shelly Sterling’s bid to sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Donald Sterling, who owns the team along with estranged wife Shelly, is resisting the sale.

The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life for making racist statements after the release of recorded conversations.

Sterling has denied he is a racist from the witness stand and vowed he’ll never sell the team, claiming he is the victim of illegally recorded conversations that invaded his privacy.

Parsons took over leadership of the Clippers in May during the media blitz surrounding the banishment of Sterling, who seemed to accept the idea of a sale until he rescinded his agreement for his wife to make a deal. By then, she had the offer from Ballmer.

Ballmer met with Donald Sterling on Monday at Sterling’s Beverly Hills home, according to a person close to the case who was not authorized to speak publicly about it and talked with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Niceties were exchanged but no agreement was reached during the meeting, the person said.

Shelly Sterling also is on the witness list Tuesday along with Dean Bonham, an expert on sponsorship and marketing issues who is also the president of an NBA franchise.

The high-stakes financial fight centers on whether Shelly Sterling was authorized to make a deal with Ballmer on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust.

While she was negotiating, Donald Sterling revoked the trust, a move designed to rescind his signed agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for just $12 million.

He announced from the witness stand earlier in the trial that he would never sell the team and would be suing the NBA for the rest of his life.

Shelley Sterling says her estranged husband has the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and is not competent to handle his own business affairs. But that issue is not being litigated.

On Monday, the chief financial officer of Sterling’s properties said the billionaire might be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in real estate loans if the sale does not go through.

Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of the trust, testified that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust.

Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher suggested that Sterling could take the real estate company public in order to raise funds.

But Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, suggested it would be a tough sell because of Donald Sterling’s reputation.

If the sale of the team doesn’t go through by Sept. 15, the NBA can seize the team and sell it at auction.

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AP writer Tami Abdollah contributed to this report.

Associated Press

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