Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Forward 50 2014

Shelly Sterling

Stopping a serious communal shande in its tracks is no mean feat — especially if you can put a cool billion bucks in your pocket at the same time.

Shelly Sterling, 80, achieved both when she pressured her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, to sell the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team after he was caught on tape telling his model girlfriend (who was less than half his age) that she shouldn’t bring black people to the games.

That was a certified disaster, especially in a sport where most of the top players are black along with a big chunk of its fan base. It got worse when a previously recorded tape captured Donald Sterling seeking to defend the indefensible by claiming that blacks are treated poorly in Israel, too.

Into the firestorm strode Shelly Sterling, who has served as her husband’s partner in their real estate empire even as their marriage went south.

Shelly Sterling also had a history of making dubious remarks about other ethnic groups. But she crucially maintained the trust of key players in the feud such as Clippers coach Doc Rivers and incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who also happens to be Jewish.

She brokered the sale of the team to Microsoft multi-billionaire Steve Ballmer for a whopping $2 billion, which the couple will split.

True to his bizarre track record, Donald Sterling tried to back out of the sweet deal. But a judge ruled against him, closing the door on an embarrassing chapter for him — and all of us.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.