Attorneys for Donald Sterling told a probate court judge on Monday that the Los Angeles Clippers co-owner had been duped into medical examinations that determined he lacked the mental capacity to have a say in the $2 billion sale of his team.
Sterling’s attorneys, speaking during a pre-trial hearing in the legal battle for control of the National Basketball Association franchise, asked the judge to allow them to present evidence of his mental fitness.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said he would rule on that request next week.
Sterling’s wife, Shelly, has asked Levanas to confirm her as the controlling owner of the team after Donald Sterling vowed to block its sale to former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.
Sterling, 80, was banned for life by the NBA in April and fined $2.5 million after privately taped racist remarks were leaked to celebrity website TMZ.com.
A four-day trial in Los Angeles Superior Court is set to begin on July 7 and offer a resolution ahead of the NBA owners’ July 15 vote on whether to approve the sale to Ballmer.
Shelly Sterling has argued that she can sell the franchise with Sterling’s blessing because physicians have deemed him mentally unfit to handle business.
In May, neurologists examined Sterling and found that he suffers from dementia consistent with early Alzheimer’s disease, which would hand full control of the Clippers to his wife under a provision of the family’s trust.
Sterling, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, has also sued the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver for $1 billion in damages, alleging that the NBA forced him to sell the team because of a recording that could not be entered as evidence under California law.