September 19, 2018

Moving & Shaking: Beit T’Shuvah Celebrates, Aliyah Hosts MLK Prayer

From left: Beit T’Shuvah gala auction co-chair Stefanie Post, auction co-chair Laura Kinsman, Beit T’Shuvah founder Harriet Rossetto, Beit T’Shuvah Senior Rabbi and honoree Mark Borovitz, Beit T’Shuvah President Annette Shapiro, Beit T’Shuvah board member and honoree Sam Delug, gala co-chair Lynn Bider and gala co-chair Heidi Praw attend the annual Beit T’Shuvah gala. Photo courtesy of Beit T’Shuvah

Jewish rehabilitation organization Beit T’Shuvah held its 26th annual gala on Jan. 28 at the Beverly Hilton.

The event drew about 900 people and raised $2.2 million for the organization, making it the top-grossing event in the organization’s 31-year history, said Janet Rosenblum, Beit T’Shuvah’s director of advancement.

The cocktail-attire event honored “Rebel Rabbi” Mark Borovitz, the senior rabbi at Beit T’Shuvah, and “Mogul Mensch” Sam Delug, a Beit T’Shuvah board of directors member.

Lynn Bider and Heidi Praw, who have been involved with Beit T’Shuvah for over a decade, co-chaired the event.

Valley Beth Shalom Senior Rabbi Ed Feinstein served as emcee of the event, which also featured a silent auction, dinner and an awards program.

Attendees included Stanley Black, Rev. Mark Whitlock, Annette and Leonard Shapiro, Joyce Brandman, Charlotte Kamenir and members of the Kamenir-Reznik family, Nancy Mishkin, Ruth Ziegler and representatives of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, a partner of Beit T’Shuvah.

Beit T’Shuvah serves people recovering from substance abuse and other addictions, including gambling, eating disorders and compulsive behaviors. Every year, Beit T’Shuvah reaches more than 500 residential clients and an additional 2,500 community members through its congregation and prevention programs.

“With the opioid epidemic now considered a national emergency, Beit T’Shuvah is one of the few places dealing with addiction regardless of someone’s ability to pay for treatment,” Rosenblum said. “We are truly unique that way, and we don’t throw you out when your insurance runs out. Many of our 145 residents stay six months to a year. This dinner makes this possible.”

Honorary chairs were Joyce Brandman, Warren Breslow and Gail Buchalter, Asher Delug, Jeff Frasco and Beverly Frank, and Annette and Leonard Shapiro. Laura Kinsman and Stefanie Post Pollard were the auction chairs.

Elana Wien, vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, has been selected as a Wexner Field Fellow. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles

Bailey London, executive director at USC Hillel, has been selected as a Wexner Field Fellow. Photo courtesy of Bailey London

Los Angeles Jewish community leaders Elana Wien, vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and Bailey London, executive director of USC Hillel, have been selected for the latest cohort of the Wexner Field Fellowship, a three-year leadership development program for the Jewish community.

The fellowship is awarded by the Wexner Foundation in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation.

“We are very proud of Elana Wien for her many contributions in the community, including this significant honor,” Jewish Community Foundation President and CEO Marvin Schotland said in a statement. “Having worked with Elana for over six years, I’ve watched her develop into the outstanding Jewish leader she is today. We congratulate Elana, and all of the Wexner Field fellows, and look forward to her continued growth through this fellowship and beyond.”

Wien and London are among 15 fellows selected for the 2018 Wexner Field cohort, from cities that include Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

“I’m beyond honored to have been selected to be a part of the second class of the Wexner Field Fellowship,” London said. “Throughout the early stages of my career, I have had the privilege of participating in high-level professional development, and this opportunity is, by far, the most comprehensive way I can imagine continuing the process of growing and learning. I’m most excited to be a part of a network around the world of professional and volunteer leadership that has not only been invested in their own development but in strengthening the Jewish community for generations to come.”

From left: Vance Serchuk, director of KKR Global Institute; former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi; and retired Gen. David Petraeus were the keynote panel at the recent AIPAC L.A. gala. Photo by Timothy J. Carr Photography

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) held its annual Los Angeles gala on Jan. 21 at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. About 1,000 people attended the event, the theme of which was a celebration of 70 years of friendship between the United States and Israel.

The program featured AIPAC Regional Director Wayne Klifosky; Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards; AIPAC UCLA student activist Amir Kashfi; and a keynote panel with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and Vance Serchuk, director of the investment firm KKR Global Institute.

The panelists discussed the U.S.-Israel relationship and challenges and opportunities in the Middle East.

AIPAC is a bipartisan pro-Israel lobby seeking to promote and strengthen the U.S-Israel relationship.

L.A. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, who has pledged $7.5 million over five years to Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, appeared at a ceremony for the pledge. Photo courtesy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, through his philanthropic organization the Ballmer Group, which supports economic mobility, has pledged $7.5 million over five years to Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital.

The Ballmer Group, which Ballmer co-founded with his wife, Connie, and the Weingart Foundation, a grant-making foundation founded by the late Ben Weingart and his late wife, Stella, together pledged $15 million to the nonprofit hospital serving South Los Angeles.

“Both Weingart and the Ballmers identified the hospital as an agent for change in South Los Angeles,” said a Jan. 12 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital press release.

The organizations’ goal is to bring more doctors to South Los Angeles and thus close the physician gap, the
release said.

Ballmer attended a Jan. 12 ceremony at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion that celebrated the pledges.

The Temple Aliyah Martin Luther King Jr. Day interfaith service featured Jewish and Christian children’s choirs. Photo courtesy of Temple Aliyah

Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered together on Jan. 19 at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills for the 19th annual Voices of Unity interfaith prayer service in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

An estimated 800 people attended the Shabbat service, including Pastor Najuma Smith Pollard of Word of Encouragement Church in Pico-Union, Pastor Michael J. Fisher of Greater Zion Church Family in Compton, Father Michael Evans of St. Bernardine of Siena Church in Woodland Hills, and Shaykh Suhail Hasan Mulla of the Council of Islamic Scholars.

The service included performances by Christian and Jewish children’s choirs and Algerian actor-activist Ben Youcef, who is also a muezzin, the man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque. Youcef sang the Abrahamic prayer “We Are All Children of Abraham,” which Temple Aliyah Cantor Mike Stein had translated into English so the choirs could accompany him. They created a fusion of voices, singing in harmony in English and Arabic and sending a message of peace and friendship.

Over the years, Stein said, Temple Aliyah’s collaborations with Christian churches and the Ezzi Masjid Mosque in Woodland Hills have gone beyond the annual prayer service.

“Five years ago, while [the Ezzi Masjid Mosque] was going through renovations, they used our synagogue on Saturdays for their classes,” Stein said. “And when we found some swastikas on our walls about 2½ months ago, the Shaykh Mulla came with a bouquet of flowers to show support.”

The prayer service concluded with the participants singing “Oseh Shalom Bimromav” and “We Shall Overcome.”

“We have been doing this for 19 years, and each year people leave feeling a wellspring of hope that no one will be treated differently because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual preference,” Stein said. “We are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. This event started and continues to be inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream — that people will not be judged by the color of their skin, only by the content of their character and their souls.”

Ayala Or-El, Contributing Writer

New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer prizes team tested by adversity

After Steve Ballmer plunked down $2 billion for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, fans might expect the former Microsoft chief executive to be hitting the reset button on a team that has been through a nasty public fight over racism.

Don't bet on it. That experience, Ballmer knows, makes his team unique, and it will be part of the story he tells to earn one thing that was not guaranteed by the record price tag: a fan base that will sustain the team for years to come.

“I think people understand we are a different kind of team,” Ballmer told Reuters on Wednesday, sitting on the Clippers practice court.

“We are born in a funny way, and the guys have all had to live through something not only on the court but off the court together that requires a deeper kind of commitment.”

What they endured was former owner Donald Sterling's published racist comments and his refusal to sell the team after being banned for life by the NBA. With Ballmer securing the team through a deal with Sterling's estranged wife, the Clippers now open their next season on Oct. 30.

Ballmer says he is pleased with the basketball side of his new venture, his first after 34 years working at Microsoft Corp , from the very beginning with friend and co-founder Bill Gates. He has signed Coach Doc Rivers for another five years, and has star players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin anchoring one of the league's strongest teams.

But the man who helped sell personal computing to the masses knows he has to sell a team that has long been overlooked and overshadowed by its more famous L.A. rival, the Lakers.

Ballmer, 58, is a renowned salesman, carrying intense kinetic energy in his hulking frame as he strides across the court. He relentlessly talks about “the fan experience” and says he's not competing against the Lakers, but against the 29 other NBA teams.

“Engaged fans actually help the team, team gets better, fan experience gets better, fans get more enthusiastic,” he said. “It's like voom, a perpetual motion machine.”

DITCH THE IPADS

Ballmer promises that whether the fan comes to the arena, or cheers from the couch, or follows on a smartphone or tablet “you are going to have the best experience and that is not just the best in L.A.”

The mobile experience is something Ballmer knows intimately and he acknowledges that under his leadership at Microsoft it was something he did not get right. Competitors such as Apple Inc and Google Inc seized the mobile revolution and put pressure on Ballmer to innovate. He stepped down as CEO in February after 14 years.

“And do I wish a higher percentage of today's mobile devices were ours and we had birthed that category?,” he mused. “Yes, of course I do.”

Ballmer left the board of Microsoft last month but is still the largest individual shareholder, with about 4 percent of the company worth $15.7 billion.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Clippers will be a Microsoft organization. The son of a Ford Motor Co manager, he's always been a company and product loyalist, banning his own family from using Apple's iPhones.

“Most of the Clippers are on Windows, some of the players and coaches are not,” Ballmer said.

“And Doc kind of knows that's a project. It's one of the first things he said to me: 'We are probably going to get rid of these iPads, aren't we?' And I said, 'Yeah, we probably are.' But I promised we would do it during the off season.”

Editing by Ken Wills

Sterling’s last bid to halt L.A. Clippers sale blocked by court

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his final chance to block the $2 billion sale of the NBA team to former Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, when a California appeals court refused on Wednesday to halt the deal.

The three-judge panel rejected Sterling's bid for an immediate stay of the sale brokered by his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, ruling the deal with Ballmer had already been completed and that the 80-year-old real estate billionaire failed to show how the NBA-record sale would cause him harm.

Ballmer, 58, became the team's owner when the sale closed on Tuesday, bringing an end to a near four-month saga that saw Sterling banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million for racist remarks.

Shelly Sterling, 79, was given the go-ahead by a Los Angeles probate judge last month as the court said she had the power and fiduciary duty to complete the deal with Ballmer.

The court also denied Sterling's request to overturn the lower court's decision.

Sterling will still profit from the sale, pocketing the $2 billion along with his wife.

The appeals court's rejection of Sterling's petition is another victory for the NBA as the league has so far been able to remove an owner without having to take the action itself, legal observers said.

Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said in a statement: “It is time for Donald to accept that the game is over and he has run out of courts.”

Lawyers for Sterling had argued that a probate judge ruled too broadly by allowing Shelly Sterling to employ a little-used section of California probate code that would let the sale go ahead pending an appeal.

Shelly Sterling struck the deal with Ballmer in May, a month after the NBA banned her husband after his privately taped remarks imploring a girlfriend not to publicly associate with black people were published.

Sterling's remarks during the Clippers' playoff run sparked public outrage, prompted sponsors to cut ties with the team and players considered a boycott.

Sterling, who originally blessed the deal his wife struck with Ballmer, refused to accept it after the NBA would not lift his lifetime ban or rescind his $2.5 million fine.

The NBA still faces civil lawsuits in California and U.S. courts from Sterling, who says the league's actions relied on illegal evidence and violated corporate law in its attempts to have the team sold.

Sterling's attorneys called the appellate ruling “harsh.”

“Nevertheless, we are confident Donald will be completely vindicated in his federal case against the NBA,” attorneys Maxwell Blecher and Bobby Samini said in a statement.

Ballmer, who had previously pursued an NBA franchise, will make his first public appearance as owner at a Clippers fan rally next Monday.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills

Los Angeles Clippers sale to Steve Ballmer finalized, NBA says

Steve Ballmer, the former head of Microsoft, has completed his $2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, ending a saga that began when former team owner Donald Sterling was heard making racist remarks to his girlfriend on a tape recording.

The deal closed after a California appeals court confirmed the right of Sterling's estranged wife Shelly to sell the team on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, the National Basketball Association said on Tuesday. The NBA Board of Governors had approved the sale, and has added Ballmer as a Clippers member of board of governors.

The $2 billion price tag for the franchise was the highest paid for an NBA team. The team, which began in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves, has never won a NBA championship and last year finished with a 57-25 record, losing in the Western Conference semifinals to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Shelly Sterling struck the deal with Ballmer in May, a month after the NBA banned her 80-year old husband, following revelations of his privately taped remarks imploring the girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to publicly associate with black people.

Sterling's remarks, which were made during the Clippers' playoff run, sparked public outrage and prompted sponsors to cut ties with the team.

The team's interim CEO, Richard Parsons, testified at a probate trial that head coach Doc Rivers was ready to quit if Sterling remained the owner the team and that the team's players would do the same.

The 58 year old Ballmer is worth an estimated $21.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, and is the 31st wealthiest person in the United States.

Reporting by Ronald Grover Steve Ginsberg, and Mary Milliken; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Jeffrey Benkoe

Judge allows $2 billion sale of NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers to proceed

The record $2 billion sale of pro basketball's Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer can proceed over the objections of co-owner Donald Sterling, a judge tentatively ruled on Monday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the deal, brokered by Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, was permissible and could be consummated even if Sterling, who has been banned for life from the NBA for racist remarks, chose to appeal.

[Related: Donald Tokowitz Sterling – A Jew minus]

“She had every good reason to believe that Donald agreed to the sale of the team,” Levanas said.

The ruling was a major victory for the NBA and Shelly Sterling, who had asked the probate judge to confirm her as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers after having her 80-year-old husband removed when neurologists deemed him to have early Alzheimer's disease and was unable to handle business affairs.

Shelly Sterling, 79, cried after the ruling in the emotionally charged nine-day trial and told reporters outside the courtroom “either way we'd win. I am just doing what I had to do.”

She said she believed Donald Sterling's ban from the NBA would be lifted.


Shelly Sterling speaks at a news conference with her lawyer Pierce O'Donnell, right, and Steve Ballmer's lawyer Adam Streisand, third right, in Los Angeles on July 28. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling after derogatory remarks he made about black people in private to a woman friend were recorded and then published. Sterling had vowed to block the sale he initially blessed because he said his wife improperly removed him as a trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers.

The NBA, looking to close a chapter that brought shame to the basketball league and outraged fans, said it was “pleased” with the court's decision.

“We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.

The judge said his tentative ruling would take formal effect when he issues it in writing in coming weeks.

Ed McCaffery, a professor of law at University of Southern California, said Donald Sterling will likely appeal the ruling, but is highly unlikely to be able to derail the timetable of the sale.

“He can appeal as much as he likes, but the Clippers are going to be sold to Ballmer,” McCaffery said.

Donald Sterling, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, has also sued the NBA, the league commissioner and his wife, contending the team was illegally taken from him.

Bradley Shear, a sports attorney, called the ruling a “complete and total” victory for Shelly Sterling, but not a surprising one, as she was extremely careful in how she used the rules of the family trust to have Sterling removed as a trustee.

Additional reporting by Tim Reid; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Grant McCool

Sterling marriage ‘stress’ at issue as L.A. Clippers trial nears end

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's bid to block the $2 billion sale of the NBA team in a probate trial entered its final stretch on Wednesday when his attorneys sought to prove his estranged wife improperly seized control of the franchise.

Sterling's attorneys called only two witnesses during the emotionally charged trial that will determine whether the 80-year-old real estate billionaire' s wife had the authority to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer.

A neurologist called by Sterling's attorneys testified that Sterling, who has been banned by the NBA for racist remarks, was under undue stress from his wife Shelly Sterling, 79, while taking the mental exams that declared him incapable of managing his business affairs.

“There is a stress in the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Sterling, and you wouldn't want that stress to impact a mental status investigation,” neurologist Jeffrey Cummings told Los Angeles Superior Court.

Sterling was removed as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers after physicians in May deemed him to be suffering from early Alzheimer's disease.

His legal team was dealt a blow last week when Judge Michael Levanas refused to let them call Shelly Sterling's attorneys as witnesses.

They contend Shelly Sterling, her attorneys and the NBA hatched a secret “Plan B” to gain control of the team when Sterling refused to sell the Clippers amid public and financial fallout from his racist remarks.

“This is a ploy,” Sterling's attorney Bobby Samini said outside court, adding he believes Shelly Sterling intends to divorce. “She wants control of the entirety of the estate.”

Sterling's attorneys chose not to call either Sterling to testify. Both testified earlier in the trial, with a combative Donald Sterling often shouting and at one point calling his wife a pig.

Cummings, a physician who specializes in dementia at Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas, said he would have told Sterling why he was being examined, supporting Sterling's argument that he was misled into the medical examinations.

But under cross-examination, Cummings testified it would be adversarial if a physician told a patient the legal implications of an examination.

Cummings is central to Sterling's case that the process used to remove him as trustee was inappropriate, but Levanas said he was unsure whether Cummings's testimony – much of which was successfully objected to by Shelly Sterling's attorney – would factor in his decision.

Closing arguments begin on July 28 and Levanas will rule on whether Sterling was properly removed as a trustee and if Sterling's revocation of the family trust after the sale to Ballmer could void the NBA-record deal.

Levanas will also decide whether the sale can continue pending a possible appeal.

Sterling has launched other lawsuits against the NBA, league commissioner Adam Silver and Shelly Sterling in a bid to scrap the sale, which he testified undervalued the team.

Sterling is likely to ask a civil court for an injunction on the sale if he loses the probate trial.

Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills

Donald Sterling says Clippers not for sale, after all

Basketball franchise the Los Angeles Clippers is not for sale, owner Donald Sterling said on Monday, vowing to fight to keep the team he built, NBC News reported, in the latest salvo of his battle with the league.

Sterling, who was banned for life by the National Basketball Association in April over a leaked recording of racist remarks he made, said he had been treated unfairly and must defend his rights to privacy and due process.

“From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I have worked for 33 years to build the team … I intend to fight to keep the team,” NBC News quoted the 80-year-old Sterling as saying.

Sterling's legal representatives did not immediately return telephone calls and messages seeking comment on the report.

Sterling sued the NBA and its commissioner, Adam Silver, on May 30, seeking at least $1 billion in damages, just as the league tentatively approved a deal by his estranged wife, co-owner of the franchise, to sell the club for $2 billion to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Besides the lifetime ban, Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the league's maximum penalty.

Amid fury at Sterling's remarks from fans, players and sponsors of the Clippers, the NBA commissioner also urged the league's 29 other team owners to take the unprecedented step of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers, which he bought in 1981.

In a statement by Sterling carried by NBC, he said he was extremely sorry for the hurtful comments he made in private, and that they were made in anger and jealousy.

But he said he believed Silver “acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers,” banning him for life, and imposing the fine.

“The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and flies in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans,” Sterling said.

“I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights. While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled.”

On Sunday, Silver said Sterling's lawsuit against the league was the only obstacle to completion of the sale of the Clippers to Ballmer.

After first threatening not to give up the team without a fight, Sterling ceded a controlling interest in the team to his wife, Shelly, who was already a 50-percent co-owner through a family trust, for the purpose of negotiating a sale.

After she struck a deal to sell the Clippers to Ballmer for a league record of $2 billion, Sterling sued the NBA, seeking – among other things – to recoup the capital gains taxes he would have to pay.

A lawyer for Sterling subsequently said that lawsuit would be dropped and that his client had agreed to the team's sale.

It was not possible to verify the status of the lawsuit on Monday. Silver said in San Antonio on Sunday that part of the deal struck with Sterling's wife included her agreeing to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from her husband.

“So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that,” Silver told reporters before Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

A spokesman for Sterling's wife's company said she had no comment on the report.

Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Jeremy Laurence and Clarence Fernandez

NBA moves on Clippers sale, Sterling sues for $1 billion

The National Basketball Association said on Friday that it has reached an agreement with the estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, opening a new chapter for the franchise after 33 years under Sterling.

Sterling, 80, was banned for life by the NBA for racist remarks in a private conversation that were recorded secretly and leaked to the media while the Clippers were playing in the NBA playoffs. The news brought shame on the league, sponsors cut ties with the team and players considered a boycott.

Also on Friday, Sterling sued the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for at least $1 billion.

As a result of the settlement, the league canceled its Tuesday hearing to terminate Sterling's ownership, avoiding a vote by NBA owners to consider removing one of their own.

In his lawsuit, Sterling says he was unaware he was being recorded and was caught in a jealous quarrel with a “lover.” He alleges Silver and the NBA forced him to sell the Clippers using a recording illegal under California law as evidence.

Sterling also says in the suit the NBA did not respond to his query on Friday if the hearing had been canceled following the sale of the Clippers.

NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan called Sterling's lawsuit baseless and said Sterling did not have any recourse since his wife had sold the team.

“There was no 'forced sale' of his team by the NBA – which means his antitrust and conversion claims are completely invalid,” Buchanan said in a statement.

Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, said he had no comment on the NBA's move to tentatively approve the $2 billion sale of the Clippers by Shelly Sterling to former Microsoft Corp chief executive officer Steve Ballmer.

“I have big dreams for the team. I'd love to win a championship. I'd love the Clippers to be the most dynamic, vibrant team and name in professional sports, but I've got a lot to learn,” Ballmer said in an interview published by The Los Angeles Times on Friday.

NBA owners still must approve the sale, but the vote is believed to be a formality because Ballmer was vetted by the NBA last year as a suitor for the Sacramento Kings.

As part of the deal between Shelly Sterling, the Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers, and the NBA, she agreed not to sue the league.

Donald Sterling has listed the Sterling Family Trust as a plaintiff in his suit against the NBA which alleges breach of contract and antitrust violations among other damages.

A source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters that Shelly Sterling is now sole trustee of the family trust that controls the Clippers after physicians this month deemed that her husband has Alzheimer's disease.

Blecher did not respond to phone calls or emails seeking comment on Donald Sterling's health. But in a statement to CNN, he said Sterling was had a “modest mental impairment” diagnosis.

In addition to damages, Sterling has asked the court to re-install his top lieutenant Andy Roesler as Clippers CEO and eliminate his $2.5 million fine. Roesler has been placed on indefinite leave and replaced by the NBA with former Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons on an interim basis.

Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner, Editing by Mary Milliken, Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis, David Gregorio and Matt Driskill

Ex-Microsoft CEO Ballmer buys Clippers for $2 billion

Former Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer has purchased the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers franchise for $2 billion, a record for a professional basketball team, sole trustee Shelly Sterling announced on Friday.

In a news release from Greenberg Glusker, Sterling's counsel, she said she had signed a binding contract to sell the team to Ballmer on behalf of the The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the club.

“I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner. We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”

Ballmer, the son of a Jewish mother, was significantly involved in Microsoft's operations in Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, he flew in to launch a new R&D center in Herzliya in 2008, declaring, “Microsoft is as much an Israeli company as an American company.” (He was referring to the proportion of company employees per capita in each country.)

The agreement will need to be approved by the National Basketball Association's Board of Governors before it is finalized. The NBA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. I love basketball,” Ballmer said in a statement. “And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win – and win big – in Los Angeles.”

On Thursday, Ballmer outbid two groups, one led by media mogul David Geffen that offered $1.6 billion and included TV talk show maven Oprah Winfrey and Oracle Corp CEO Larry Ellison, a source close to the process told Reuters. A group of Los Angeles investors also bid $1.2 billion for the team.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as the financial advisor in the deal, Sterling's statement said.

The Clippers came up for sale after the NBA banned owner Donald Sterling for life because of racist remarks he made in a recorded conversation that was leaked last month to entertainment news website TMZ.com.

Donald Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, told The New York Times earlier that he would have to approve the sale. Blecher did not immediately respond to request for comment on Friday.

Ballmer's winning bid was raised from an initial $1.8 billion offer made earlier on Thursday, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. If approved, the deal would be second only to the $2.15 billion paid in 2012 for baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers.

“It's no wonder the prices are so high,” said sports consultant Ed Desser, a former president of NBA Television and New Media Ventures. “There just aren't enough teams for all the billionaires who want them.”

Sterling, a Los Angeles-area real estate developer, paid $12.5 million in 1981 for the Clippers, which were then located in San Diego.

Ballmer, 58, who retired as Microsoft CEO in February, remains on the board and still owns about 4 percent of the Redmond, Washington-based software giant, worth $13.4 billion.

Last year, he joined a group that unsuccessfully bid on the Sacramento Kings basketball team. A long-time basketball fan, until a few years ago he played a regular pickup game with other Microsoft colleagues at a public gym near the Microsoft campus.

It is unclear how the team's potential sale will affect a June 3 hearing the NBA scheduled at which Donald Sterling can address the accusations against him. At that meeting, the owners could force him to sell the team on a vote by 23 of the remaining 29 owners, the NBA has said.

Maxwell Blecher, Sterling's lawyer, said in an interview with CNN that his client is prepared to file suit to fight the charges, but that he intended to wait for communication from the NBA before deciding when and whether to do so.

Additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle, writing by Curtis Skinner,; Editing by Mark Heinrich