LOS ANGELES — Donald Sterling, fighting his wife's planned $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, arrived in court Tuesday to give testimony but sat stolidly as a psychiatrist testified that he's mentally incapable of handling financial affairs.
Sterling was ordered to take the witness stand after failing to appear for the start of the lawsuit trial on Monday afternoon. His lawyers are challenging the authority of Shelly Sterling under a family trust to unilaterally cut a deal for the team with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
In order to be able to make the deal herself, Shelly Sterling had two doctors examine her husband and they declared him mentally incapacitated and unable to act as an administrator of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers.
The Sterlings sat across from each other in Superior Court as lawyers prepared to question the 80-year-old billionaire in the non-jury trial.
The NBA has moved to oust Sterling from team ownership because of racist remarks he made to a girlfriend, and a neurologist hired by his wife testified Monday that she believed he has Alzheimer's disease.
A psychiatrist also hired by Shelly Sterling testified Tuesday that he drew the same conclusion after examining Sterling in May.
James Sparr said Sterling was friendly, relaxed and cooperative until a final question challenged his abilities.
A frustrated Sterling then said, "'I have to go,' and walked out of the room," Sparr said.
Sparr's report concluded that Sterling showed early signs of the debilitating mental condition and concluded that "he is substantially unable to manage his finances and resist fraud and malfeasance and is no longer competent to act as a trustee of his trust."
Sterling's lawyers contend he's capable of managing financial affairs.
Sterling showed no emotion during Sparr's testimony.
However, he pulled his wife over as they got up to leave for a break and kissed her. She wiped away a tear as they parted.
NBA owners are scheduled to vote on the Ballmer deal on July 15. It's also the day that Ballmer's offer is set to expire — and there is no deal without the judge's approval of the sale.
If the sale isn't completed by Sept. 15, the league said it could seize the team and put it up for auction.