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Sterling Saga Enters The End Game

Donald Sterling can still sue to stop the sale of the Clippers - and we expect he will - but now, at the end, he's lost a lot more than just the team.

Jonathan Alcorn

This story has been changing very quickly, and the thing which really jumps out at us is this: the Sterling Family Trust declared Donald Sterling mentally unfit to block the sale. The Trust did so on Thursday, which means that obviously Mrs. Sterling sought to have him declared  so earlier. It's not like this occurred to her Thursday afternoon after Steve Ballmer's enormous bid came in unexpectedly over the transom.

So, from Sterling's perspective, he has now been betrayed by his girlfriend, his NBA partners and his wife. True, they are estranged and she would like to divorce him eventually (she said recently her lawyers told her that the financial situation dictated she wait), but they have generally seemed to be working in concert when it comes to the Clippers.

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However, it's worth remembering that, whatever her motivations were, she wanted to take back everything that Sterling had given his mistress, which is why she made legal moves to reclaim property given to Stiviano.

Her emotions towards her husband are no doubt complex, and made more so by the fact that the Sterlings seem to be of one mind when it comes to business.

With this well planned move against Sterling, though, Mrs. Sterling comes off as a clever kaishakunin, standing behind her husband as he tries to bargain for his (NBA) life.

He was trying until Thursday afternoon.  In one swift move, Mrs. Sterling seems to have ensured the sale of his team, his removal from the public eye and an enormous pot of money of which she'll get a large part.

And on top of that, she has moved him from pariah to demented pariah.

One final thought: with her big win and with the Trust having declared her husband incompetent, will she now be responsible for administering his share of the windfall?

Mr. Sterling was able to do a lot of the unpleasant things he did over the years because he had the power to do them and people tolerated him because of that power. But as with Ms. Stiviano, and perhaps his wife at least in later years, Sterling is finding out that his money can't buy him love.

It's been very difficult to find sympathy for this man, but at this point, nearly universally reviled, his team gone, what was left of his good name gone, wife in control of the majority of the couple's assets, you have to think that Donald Sterling is the loneliest man in the world.

Where does he turn now?

And there's one more shoe to drop: at some point, perhaps soon if the lawyers think the situation sufficiently lucrative, Mrs. Sterling will file for divorce.