By BILL HETHERMAN
City News Service
Testifying today in a trial to determine whether she has authority to sell the Clippers, Shelly Sterling said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told her several weeks ago that he would consider reducing the lifetime ban against her husband if he agreed to sell the team.
"Maybe we can do a one-year ban and two years probation," she quoted Silver as saying.
Shelly Sterling, 79, said Silver would not make any commitments, however, unless her husband Donald was resolute in his intention to give up the team.
"Adam was afraid he would look like a fool," she said.
But she said her husband of nearly 60 years instead held fast to his decision to keep the team and said he would hire investigators to find "dirt" against the other NBA owners.
During often tense exchanges with her spouse's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, Sterling repeatedly said her husband promised to let her sell the Clippers to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, then changed his mind later.
"You were there, you heard it, you even agreed to it," Sterling said, referring to Blecher. "I really believed he was going to sell. I really believed he was going to go through with it."
Donald Sterling testified Tuesday that he did not want to sell the Clippers without his wife maintaining an interest in the team that he bought 33 years ago for $12.5 million.
But she testified today that the NBA insisted she could not have any part of the Clippers except for a charitable foundation. She said Ballmer, however, promised she would have as many or more perks as she had as an owner with her husband.
Shelly Sterling also denied she was part of any effort with her attorneys to have her husband removed as a trustee by hiring two doctors who would find him incompetent, thereby giving her the authority to remove him as a trustee with the family trust.
She said she sought the physicians' advice after seeing her husband's rambling responses and demeanor during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"I had in mind my husband's welfare," she said, saying she was concerned about his frequent "mood swings, yelling, screaming and cussing."
In the end, she said, she didn't have to have her husband removed from the trust to sell the team because he gave her permission and was enthusiastic about it before changing his mind.
She said she received four bids to buy the Clippers, ranging from $1.2 billion to Ballmer's eventual winning number.
"I thought it was fabulous," she said of Ballmer's offer. "It was an amount more than any team had ever sold for and I was really proud of it."
Donald Sterling became embroiled in controversy earlier this year following the public release of recorded conversations between him and frequent courtside companion V. Stiviano. Sterling is heard on the tape disparaging Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people and telling her not to bring them to Clippers games.
After the racist remarks came to light, the league announced plans to take action against Sterling to force him to sell the team and banned him from the league for life. But he has since filed suit against the NBA, alleging violations of his civil rights. He contends that he was recorded illegally while making emotional remarks during a "lovers' quarrel" with Stiviano.