256 5 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers has told the team's interim CEO Richard Parsons that he doesn't want to return next season if disgraced owner Donald Sterling remains associated with the Clippers.

"Doc has been the guy who has had to stand up and deal with the media" during the controversy surrounding Sterling's racist comments in April and his subsequent lifetime ban from the NBA, Parsons testified Tuesday in the Sterling probate trial.

"He has told me he doesn't think if Mr. Sterling remains that he wants to continue as coach. He's told me that at least three times."

Parsons said it would be "a disaster" if Rivers leaves.

"Doc is the father figure to the team," Parsons testified. "Chris Paul is the on-court captain, but Doc is the leader, the coach, the grownup, a man of inestimable character and ability, not only a brilliant basketball coach but a man who really connects with people. He's a man the players believe in and admire."

Parsons said he has the same concerns about Clippers players.

"The players are concerned about what to do if what we tell them is likely to happen doesn't actually happen," Parsons said.

Parsons testified that sponsors and season-ticket holders don't want to be associated with Sterling, either. So if Sterling is still associated with the team, the Clippers face uncertain situations with their coach, their players, their sponsors and their fans.

"That, at its core, is my concern," Parsons said on the witness stand. "It can spiral down to the point where you can't stop it. If none of your sponsors are in, and the coach doesn't want to coach, and the players don't want to play, what have you got?"

Parsons, formerly a White House lawyer and CEO and chairman of Time Warner, was appointed by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to run the Clippers after Sterling was banned from the NBA. He was the opening witness Tuesday in the Sterling probate matter, in which Shelly is seeking a court order authorizing her proposed $2 billion sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Testimony is expected to conclude Wednesday, with perhaps another appearance on the stand from Shelly, and closing arguments are set for Monday.

Neither legal team would discuss the details of a meeting among Ballmer, Donald and a bevy of lawyers at Sterling's Beverly Hills home Monday afternoon.

"Nothing really happened of any moment," said Pierce O'Donnell, one of Shelly's lawyers, who was at the meeting. "It was pleasant. Mr. Sterling was a gentleman. But nothing came of it."

Bobby Samini, one of Donald's attorneys, said he doesn't expect a settlement.

"Anything could happen, but I don't see it in the tea leaves right now," Samini said.

Parsons called Ballmer's $2 billion offer for the Clippers "a knockout price" and said it would be difficult to match if it goes away.

Parsons said Silver has told him, as he has said publicly, that if the Clippers are not sold by Sept. 15, the NBA owners will vote to remove the Sterlings from ownership and the NBA will conduct a sale of the team.

Ballmer attorney Adam Streisand asked Parsons if, in that scenario, the Ballmer offer of $2 billion could be matched.

"It's going to be tough to get this price again," Parsons testified. "I watched the process. Steve Ballmer came in with a pre-emptive bid. He basically wanted to clear the field. If Steve goes away, I don't know how you get to this number again."

Parsons said that sponsors and season ticket holders have told him they don't want anything to do with the Clippers as long as Donald Sterling remains the owner.

At some point, the team might face a lot of angry season ticket holders who have made deposits for next year but want their money back.

"That's a real conundrum," Parsons said. "We could say that, 'Well, I have your money and possession is nine-10ths of the law. But then you lose them, and you've lost them forever."

If Sterling remains associated with the team when the season begins, Parsons said sponsorship money would likely disappear.

"That would be sufficient to eliminate the team's profitability," Parsons testified.

Parsons' testimony was echoed by a Bank of America investment banking executive, Anwar Zakkour, who was hired by Shelly to prepare an analysis of what the Clippers were worth.

Zakkour also was part of the team that fielded bids on the Clippers for Shelly.

He testified that he and his team of finance experts did a valuation of the Clippers and came up with a range of $1 billion to $1.3 billion as a possible sales price.

He testified that he was then asked to do another analysis using more aggressive assumptions. That produced a range of $1.5 to $1.8 billion.

When Ballmer came in with an offer of $2 billion, "I think we were doing backflips," Zakkour testified. "Not to mix metaphors but we thought it was a home run.

"None of us believed we would get $2 billion. Not even close. We didn't even think we could get to the high end of the 1.5 to 1.8 range."

Sports marketing consultant Dean Bonham, testifying for Donald's side, said he thought the $2 billion can be matched later if the judge were to block the sale to Ballmer.

Bonham testified that if the NBA seizes the team and sells it at auction, "I think there's a chance it could actually increase the price."

256 5 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.11alive.com/story/sports/nba/2014/07/22/donald-sterling-probate-trial-doc-rivers-clippers-richard-parsons/13027625/