Basketball / Sports

Donald Sterling's petition denied in latest legal tussle over Clippers

LOS ANGELES--An appeals court denied Donald Sterling's petition late Friday to stay last month's probate court ruling against him, the latest round of legal wrangling over the proposed $2-billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer.

The ruling capped a confused and hectic 24 hours that left all parties back where they started. Sterling's attorneys face a Wednesday deadline to file their objections to the probate court's ruling and presumably take the case to the appeals court again.

Earlier Friday, Sterling petitioned the appellate court to stay the case and issue a writ to overturn the unusual order Judge Michael Levanas invoked last month when he ruled Sterling's wife, Shelly Sterling, acted appropriately in agreeing to sell the Clippers to Ballmer.

The order would allow the sale of the franchise to proceed, regardless of an appeal by Donald Sterling.

After Levanas signed the final statement of decision in the probate case Thursday, Sterling's attorneys believed that only the judge's impending final order stood in the way of the Clippers' sale.

That led to the urgency in the opening pages of Friday's petition, accompanied by 10 volumes of exhibits, in which Sterling's attorneys claimed the sale could be completed that day.

"Once that sale goes through," the petition said, "Donald will have lost a unique and irretrievable asset coveted by high net worth individuals around the world -- one of 30 NBA franchises in the country, and one that under Donald's 30-year ownership has recently become one of the most successful."

Ballmer's attorney, Adam Streisand, blasted the Sterling's petition.

"We won this trial because Donald Sterling is on an egotistical crusade to destroy the Clippers if he can't keep the team, and he can't," he said. "We will win the appeal for the very same reason."

That wasn't necessary, at least not yet.

Instead, Levanas set aside his final statement Friday. In a brief written order, the judge said he misinterpreted a previous filing by Sterling's attorneys to be their objections to his ruling, but they weren't. Now, Sterling's attorneys have until Wednesday, the original deadline, to file the objections.

Because Levanas vacated the final statement, there was nothing for the appellate court to stay or rule on -- at least on Friday.

"The petition is denied without prejudice to refiling at the appropriate time," the order said.

(Staff writer Kim Christensen contributed to this report.)

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