News

CEO: Clippers will lose players if Sterling stays

CEO: Clippers will lose players if Sterling stays

CLIPPERS CONTROVERSY:Shelly Sterling, 79, has asked a probate court to confirm her as having sole authority to sell the Clippers after physicians said her husband has early Alzheimer's disease and could not handle business affairs, which would hand her control of the team according to terms of the family trust. Photo: Associated Press

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Los Angeles Clippers could face an exodus of players, sponsors, fans and their coach if embattled owner Donald Sterling is still associated with the team, Richard Parsons, the franchise’s interim chief executive, said on Tuesday at a trial over the NBA team’s $2 billion sale.

Parsons, the former Time Warner CEO who was installed by the NBA to run the Clippers in May, testified that the team would likely lose profitability and its overall value if sponsors, one of its top revenue streams, leave because of Sterling.

“We have a bunch of sponsors who are sitting at the edge of the pool and they don’t want to go into the water,” Parsons told Los Angeles Superior Court a day after failed settlement talks between Sterling, 80, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who won the bidding for the team.

The real estate billionaire has been banned for life by the NBA for taped racist remarks that were made public. He has vowed to block the NBA-record sale that his estranged wife brokered with Ballmer because of the way the league treated him, his lawyers said.

Also on Tuesday, Sterling filed a lawsuit against his wife Shelly Sterling, the NBA, its commissioner Adam Silver and the corporation that owns the Clippers, alleging that all the shares of the team belong to him after he revoked his family trust.

Parsons testified it was imperative that a new owner be in place before the start of the season in October or it could throw the team into a “death spiral.”

“If none of your sponsors want to sponsor, if the coach doesn’t want to coach and if the players don’t want to play for you, what do you got?” Parsons said.

Parsons testified that head coach Doc Rivers told him he did not believe he could coach the team if Sterling remained as owner.

Shelly Sterling, 79, has asked a probate court to confirm her as having sole authority to sell the Clippers after physicians said her husband has early Alzheimer’s disease and could not handle business affairs, which would hand her control of the team according to terms of the family trust.

Sterling contends he could get $2.5 billion to $5 billion for the Clippers because of booming sports media rights.

Parsons said he believed Ballmer paid above-market value for the Clippers, calling it a “knock-out price.”

“There is no way you can get to this price on any metric basis,” Parsons said. “It’s like buying a Faberge egg.”

The NBA has said it could confiscate the Clippers and put the franchise up for auction if the sale is not approved by Sept. 15.

Anwar Zakkour, an investment banker with Bank of America who helped facilitate the sale, testified that Ballmer’s $2 billion bid outpaced their most generous projections of $1.8 billion.

“None of us believed we would get $2 billion when we started,” Zakkour said, adding he valued the team between $1 billion and $1.3 billion.

(Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

INSTANT REPLAY: The week’s best sports photos

cavaliers

A look back at some of the week's biggest plays in sports and the moments you may have missed.

in Sports

This weekend’s sports schedule

hockey

Here's a look at some of the big sporting events taking place this weekend.

in National

Making headlines this week

AP141543910901_5

A look back at some of the big stories and the headlines you may have missed.

in Sports

Sepp Blatter wins re-election as FIFA president

FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks during a press conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. FIFA will not reopen the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and will publish at least some of the confidential report into the bidding process, Blatter said Friday.

Sepp Blatter's FIFA re-election came despite demands that he quit in the face of a major bribery scandal.

in Sports

WATCH: Preserving Muhammad Ali’s childhood home

15-overlay7

An effort is underway to restore the Louisville home where the boxing legend grew up.