Donald Sterling's latest effort to block the $2 billion US sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was rejected Wednesday by a California appeals court.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal issued a brief order Wednesday saying it couldn't halt a sale that had been completed.
"The evidence before this court indicates the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steven Ballmer has closed," the court wrote. "Thus, there is nothing for this court to stay."
Even if the sale hadn't closed, the three judges said the former owner failed to show he was harmed enough to get a temporary stay.
Ballmer sealed the deal Tuesday after a probate judge cleared the way for Sterling's estranged wife to sell the team. The Los Angeles Superior Court judge said Shelly Sterling could complete the sale she negotiated after removing her husband of 58 years from the family trust that owned the team because of questions about his mental competence.
At the time she negotiated the record price for an NBA team the league was threatening to seize the team and auction it after banning Donald Sterling for life for making derogatory remarks about blacks.
Sterling's lawyers, who acknowledged in recent court filings that he isn't a sympathetic figure, derided the "popular" ruling against the unpopular owner. They said they were deeply disappointed with the appellate order.
"He has been deprived from ownership of the Clippers after 33 years without being accorded appellate review of this harsh result," attorneys Max Blecher and Bobby Samini said in a written statement.
Ballmer's lawyer, Adam Streisand, said they were "supremely confident" that even with further Sterling appeals, Ballmer is the "undisputed owner."
"Clipper nation rejoices," Streisand said. "He's got the ability to seek review by the California Supreme Court, where he has a one in 2 billion chance."
Shelly Sterling's lawyer said she was thrilled to have the court's blessing.
"It is time for Donald to accept that the game is over and he has run out of courts," attorney Pierce O'Donnell said in a statement.
Donald Sterling, 80, a billionaire lawyer who bought the team in 1981 for $12 million, still has lawsuits pending in state and federal court against the NBA. He has vowed to fight the league for the rest of his life.
His lawyers said he will be vindicated in the federal case.