For most of two days, the two sports power brokers had talked openly of their shared affection, still friends after 58 years of marriage, estranged emotionally but together in their ownership of the Clippers.
Donald Sterling had called Shelly Sterling "my beautiful wife."
Shelly Sterling said she still loved her husband "very much."
But as the hearing to determine control of the Clippers' potential sale reached its critical point Wednesday, the honeymoon became a horror show.
Shelly Sterling took the stand and carefully, chillingly spoke of her husband as if he were incapacitated.
"Oh God, he's been getting more forgetful. He's slurring his words. He's agitated a lot. He gets mad for no particular reason. He's just not the same person that he used to be," she testified. "Apparently it comes with age and illness."
Then, after she stepped down from the stand and approached her husband in the courtroom's front row, he fought back with words that were most certainly not slurred, words that no one will soon forget.
"Get away from me, you pig!" he shouted, waving her off as she gasped in surprise.
Shelly began to cry as she wobbled back across the aisle, but Donald was not done yet.
"Shelly, how could you lie?" he said.
The unexpected and offensive outburst heated up the stuffy Los Angeles Superior Court room as two deputies stepped between the elderly couple while Judge Michael Levanas scolded Donald Sterling from the bench.
"Please don't make any statements to your wife," Levanas said. "It's somewhat disturbing to hear that, for everyone, I think."
Pierce O'Donnell, one of Shelly's attorneys, requested that Donald be removed. Levanas refused, then loudly repeated Donald's "pig" quote so the official record would reflect the chaos.
What is it with these Los Angeles sports power marriages, anyway? Just when this town had moved past the ugly battle between former Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, here comes another billionaire couple with 10-cent manners.
Say this much for the McCourts, though. At least Jamie never dragged Frank's medical records into a courtroom. And at least Frank never compared Jamie to livestock.
Steve Ballmer, where are you?
The three days of this hearing have offered further proof that it really doesn't matter who buys the Clippers, as long as this cranky couple is forced to sell them, and soon.
After the courtroom doors were mercifully locked late Wednesday afternoon and everyone hustled on to the sidewalk, the attorneys involved with the not-so-happy couple went flying off the top ropes and into the scrum.
Adam Streisand, Ballmer's lawyer, said of Donald's insult: "It was a shameful display by a seriously demented tyrant. His outburst … was just hideous but just reveals how demented he is."
Bobby Samini, Donald's lawyer, said: "I know that Donald was very upset by watching her testimony. I think he felt betrayed by it."