What Former Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Is Up To Now

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling landed in a world of trouble after TMZ released an audio recording of the NBA team owner spewing a racist diatribe in April 2014. The recording exposed Sterling instructing his alleged mistress, V. Stiviano, to limit her public exposure with black people, particularly at Clippers games, where he expressly forbade her to bring basketball legend Magic Johnson.

The TMZ story opened the floodgates for accusations of racism against Sterling, which according to Bleacher Report, were something of an open secret for years. The sports blog reported that Sterling had previously been sued over alleged housing discrimination against blacks and Hispanics and been the subject of a wrongful termination suit filed by former Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor, who described Sterling's handling of the team as a "plantation mentality."

After the release of the TMZ tape, the NBA moved quickly to issue Sterling a lifetime ban from the league — as of this writing, he's still not even allowed to attend games — and maneuvered to force him to sell the team. In July 2014, and under heavy protest, Sterling sold to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record-setting $2 billion, the highest price ever paid for a franchise in the sport, according to USA Today.  

Though he walked away from the NBA a far wealthier man than he already was, Sterling had only just begun to court controversy. Here's what the former Clippers owner is up to now.

He went from courtside to courthouse

Donald Sterling did not take the NBA's actions against him graciously. In fact, according to NBC News, in the wake of his lifetime ban and the forced sale of the Clippers, Sterling vowed a lifelong legal war with the league.

In reality, his battle against the NBA only lasted two years, starting the day after his wife, Shelly Sterling, brokered the team's sale to Steve Ballmer, according to the Los Angeles Times. Citing "a wide-ranging conspiracy" to strip him of his team ownership, Sterling sought "more than $1 billion in damages" from the league, his wife, the former and current league commissioner, and the two doctors responsible for declaring him "mentally incapable of continuing as a member of the family trust that owned the Clippers," which is how Shelly was able to sell the team out from under him in the first place.

Through various legal defeats and voluntary dismissals, only the suit against the league itself remained by November 2016. That case "ended in a quiet settlement," the details of which were not made public, reported the Los Angeles Times.

In late 2015, Donald handled an "invasion-of-privacy" lawsuit he launched against V. Stiviano and TMZ in similar fashion. According to NBC Los Angeles, after the court dismissed the gossip site from the suit on "free speech grounds," he mysteriously moved to dismiss the case without giving any reason why.

Though Donald apparently let his alleged mistress, V. Stiviano, off the hook for stirring up all the hoops hoopla, Shelly wasn't nearly as lenient.

Hopefully V. Stiviano kept receipts

One month before TMZ leaked the damning audio of Donald Sterling, his wife, Shelly Sterling, filed a lawsuit against the woman who made the recordings: V. Stiviano. As his so-called "ex-friend," Stiviano received a series of expensive gifts from Donald, which Shelly claimed were purchased out of "community property" that she shared with her husband.

Though both Stiviano and Donald claimed their two-and-a-half-year relationship was non-sexual, he forked over some very stereotypically "trophy girlfriend" gifts, including "a Ferrari, a Bentley and a Range Rover," as well as most of the ticket price on a "$1.8 million duplex near Beverly Hills," according to the Associated Press

In court, Donald was clearly aligned with his wife, even testifying that Stiviano "illegally got her name inserted into escrow documents [for the duplex] by befriending Hispanic bank and escrow employees." Yep, that's on the record.

Anyway, Shelly's suit basically stated that Donald had no right to spend what was technically her money as well on the gifts. Stiviano's lawyers argued that "the gifts were made when Donald and Shelly Sterling were separated and that Shelly Sterling couldn't seek them from a third party." Unfortunately for Stiviano, the judge sided with Shelly and ordered her husband's possible paramour to pay back $2.6 million. Ouch.

Considering Shelly's ruthless approach to her husband's supposed side piece, you may be thinking that was just a small taste of what she did to him in their divorce, right? Not so fast...

The Sterlings decide to stick it out

Clearly, Donald and Shelly Sterling's marriage was no Rockwell painting, and in August 2015, amid Shelly's legal maneuvering to swipe control of the Clippers from him, Donald filed for divorce. According to ABC News, Donald cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the divorce request, which stated that he and Shelly had been separated since Aug. 1, 2012.

Shelly offered no comment on the divorce filing, but only a few months earlier, she described their marriage in rather peculiar terms. "We're in each other's lives, and we probably always will be," she said, adding, "We're together sometimes, and sometimes not together."

Within six months, however, this wealthy couple apparently had a change of heart. In March 2016, Forbes reported on a statement from Donald's lawyer that read, "I can confirm that the divorce has been dismissed and that the Sterlings have resolved their marital differences." 

We're going to go ahead and say that "resolved their marital differences" has to be the most generous way of saying "Donald helped Shelly financially obliterate his alleged ex-girlfriend in court."

Check, please!

Not long after Donald Sterling filed for divorce, he was spotted at a trendy Los Angeles restaurant with another young woman (V. Stiviano is nearly 50 years younger than him), whom eyewitnesses described to Page Six as "a 20-something brunette." There was no secret recording necessary this time to capture Sterling's allegedly questionable behavior because their fellow diners reported hearing him "slurring and screaming at this young woman ... in front of everybody."

Appearing intoxicated, according to one onlooker, Sterling allegedly yelled, "You filthy b***h, get out of my life, I don't want your stuff in my house." To which she supposedly replied, "I don't care about your big house, you ugly old man." Sterling, his young companion, and her friend, were then reportedly "shepherded by a handler" out of the restaurant and into a "chauffeur-driven silver Bentley."

Neither the restaurant nor Sterling's lawyer commented on the incident, but just to be sure, Shelly Sterling might want to check with a few of the area's luxury car dealers to see if anyone stopped in the following day, inquiring about the perfect apology car for calling someone a "filthy b***h" during dessert.

He's the Hugh Hefner of disgraced NBA team owners

Though Donald and Shelly Sterling recommitted to their marriage in March 2016, that hasn't stopped Donald from continually being spotted out and about with young female companions. In October 2016, TMZ caught the former Clippers owner at Catch LA, "the hottest restaurant in the city," this time with two young ladies accompanying him.

The following year, in May, Sterling was snapped walking hand-in-hand in Beverly Hills with a younger "mystery brunette," according to TMZ

In August 2017, the Daily Mail ran photos of Sterling with yet another younger woman at The Grove in West Hollywood, where they "ate ice cream and did some summer shopping."

We wonder what, exactly, "summer shopping" means for a beautiful young woman with potential access to Donald's deep pockets, but if it's anything less than a boat for each day of the week, we will be shocked.

Fender bender blunder

In December 2017, a Los Angeles DJ and producer known as Shmitty got into a minor accident with the former Clippers owner. Speaking with The Blast, Shmitty said he was driving his Mitsubishi Eclipse past Donald Sterling's house when a Range Rover parked along the road "flung its door open and took off his passenger-side mirror."  

Shmitty said he then attempted to exchange insurance information with Sterling, who was a passenger in the vehicle — an unidentified woman was driving — but Sterling refused by identifying himself as an attorney and saying they only needed to exchange phone numbers. Upon Shmitty's insistence about the insurance, Sterling supposedly claimed he didn't have any and went in the house, at which point Shmitty called the cops.

Shmitty said this infuriated Sterling, who allegedly called him a "little smug-nosed piece of s**t," and told the cops they were making a mistake. Eventually, the cops forced Sterling to produce his insurance, at which point the altercation was over. In all seriousness though, Sterling does know that Mitsubishi Eclipse mirrors cost considerably less than $2 billion, right? Even really nice ones. Someone should probably let him know.

He's not off the hook just yet

Former Clippers star Baron Davis is one of the most outspoken critics of Donald Sterling. In fact, the all-star point guard began voicing his disdain for his former boss two days before the TMZ tape came out when he spilled the tea on Grantland's The Moment with Brian Koppelman podcast (via Bleacher Report). Davis said the verbal abuse and anxiety he got playing for Sterling got so bad that it affected his performance.

Fast forward three years, and Davis was still throwing Sterling under the bus. This time, he specifically addressed Sterling's alleged racism when he told ESPN's The Hoop Collective podcast (via The Undefeated) that playing for the Clippers "was almost like the movie Get Out, which — spoiler alert — is a horror film about a crazy family that hypnotizes black men so they can auction them off to old, rich white people who want to transfer their souls into their bodies. So it was a subtle comparison is what we're saying.

Davis was at it again in April 2018 when he told CNN Money, "Where is Donald Sterling right now? Somewhere enjoying his $2 billion and still being racist and still hating people and still disrespecting people."

Sterling has not responded to Davis' commentary, but in her husband's defense, Shelly Sterling said, "We're not racists. He's never been a racist. We donate to African American charities." She also suggested that Davis has an axe to grind because he was traded from the team.

Jay-Z's got 99 problems, and Donald Sterling ain't one

Donald Sterling is still a hot topic even with folks who weren't directly touched by his actions. In November 2017, rapper Jay-Z sat down for an in-depth conversation with T Magazine (via Sporting News) during which he said he felt the NBA's lifetime banning of Sterling was an overreach.

"I thought it was a misstep, because when you kick someone out, of course he's done wrong, right? But you also send everyone else back in hiding," the "4:44" rapper said, while also comparing Sterling to President Donald Trump. "The great thing about Donald Trump being president is now we're forced to have the dialogue. Now we're having the conversation on the large scale; he's provided the platform for us to have the conversation."

As far as how Sterling feels about his lifetime ban? He told NBC News in May 2017, "A ban? I don't even know what that means, but I think my time has passed." Alrighty.

The courts are like a second home to the Sterlings

In December 2017, Donald and Shelly Sterling faced more legal drama over a matter entirely unrelated to basketball or racist rants. Before they were NBA team owners, the Sterlings made a mint on Los Angeles real estate, and in 2009, one of their apartment buildings went up in flames. After the blaze, one of the tenants, actress Robyn Cohen, sued the Sterlings for "negligence, breach of contract and breach of the warranty of habitability," according to My News LA.

The basis of Cohen's lawsuit was that the building had "a faulty alarm system" that failed to adequately alert residents of the fire. She also alleged that a property manager attempted to collect rent from her after the fire, failed to offer "relocation assistance," and did not immediately return her security deposit. Ultimately, a jury awarded Cohen, who lost nearly all of her possessions due to water damage, $1.54 million in damages.

In typical fashion, Donald offered no commentary and did not attend the trial, but Shelly was there, and after the jury's decision was handed down, she said, "It's totally unfair. They don't know the facts." Donald's absence was still notable, however, because it prompted Shelly to reveal that he still seems relegated to the role of only a passive partner in the family's business interests.

Happy as a billionaire clam

Speaking with NBC News in May 2017, Donald Sterling seemed to have a complete change of heart against the league he once vowed to bury in litigation. Not only did he praise the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver for its handling of his scandal, but Sterling also said, "I am as happy as I have ever been. I am as comfortable as I have ever been."

Sterling also revealed that his sharp-tongued rebukes of the league in the aftermath of the release of the TMZ tape were a negotiating tactic designed to spark a bidding war for the sale of the Clippers. "So if I would have voluntarily offered to sell the team, I wouldn't have gotten the highest price," Sterling told NBC News. He also laughed at how quickly the new owner, Steve Ballmer, showed his cards when he supposedly told Sterling, "I am going to buy the team no matter what it costs."

Though Sterling is no longer able to attend the games — his wife now sits courtside in the seats that came along with the sale to Ballmer — Sterling said he occupies his time now with charitable causes and still watches the Clippers "faithfully" from the comfort of his home.