In an interview with ABC News, Shelly Sterling said she will “eventually” file for a divorce from Donald Sterling, something that could potentially slow the NBA’s attempts to oust the latter as the Los Angeles Clippers owner.
Under California’s community property law, a divorce would likely entitle Shelly Sterling to half her husband’s estate. That could complicate a sale even if a majority vote among league owners forces Donald out.
Although the NBA banned Donald Sterling for life nearly two weeks ago after TMZ released audio of his racist comments, both he and Shelly still co-own the Clippers in a family trust. Shelly Sterling told ABC’s Barbara Walters that her husband may be suffering from “the onsent of dementia,” and that she was told by her attorney to delay the divorce filing due to “financial agreements.”
“For the last 20 years, I’ve been seeing attorneys for a divorce,” she said. “In fact, I have here — I just filed — I was going to file the petition. I signed the petition for a divorce. And it came to almost being filed. And then, my financial advisor and my attorney said to me, ‘Not now.’”
The NBA is looking to force Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers, which will require a three-fourths majority vote among the 30 league owners at a Board of Governors meeting.
Shelly Sterling does not currently hold an active role in managing the franchise. The NBA appointed former Citigroup and Time Warner chariman Dick Parsons as the Clippers interim CEO on Friday.
Numerous civic leaders have spoken out against Shelly Sterling’s continued ownership of the team, with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti advocating for a “clean break” from the Sterling family. Shelly had been named along in past discrimination lawsuits connected to Donald Sterling’s properties, but her attorney Pierce O’Donnell defended her in a recent statement, arguing that those lawsuits were settled without an admittance of guilt.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Thursday that Shelly Sterling’s ownership would be “a very hard situation” due to her connection with Donald: ““I guarantee you every person wouldn’t be on board with that. Whether I would or not, I’m not going to say, but I just know that would be a very difficult situation for everybody.”
Sterling’s ABC interview reiterated statements released by her representatives over the past week that she intends to hold on to her stake in ownership.
“I will fight that decision,” she told Walters. “To be honest with you, I’m wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there’s 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?”