NBA to conduct hearing on Clippers’ Sterling in 2 weeks
Sports Xchange The NBA initiated a charge seeking to terminate Donald Sterling's ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers and set a hearing for June 3, the league announced Monday. The league statement said that if the NBA Board of Governors sustain...
The NBA initiated a charge seeking to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers and set a hearing for June 3, the league announced Monday.
The league statement said that if the NBA Board of Governors sustains the charge by a three-fourths vote, all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold to new owners.
The owners’ vote will take place after the hearing, which will be held in New York.
Sources with knowledge of the NBA’s legal strategy told ESPN.com that Sterling’s comments from a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper are included as part of the basis for the charge to remove him and the ownership group. The charge relates to the TMZ audio recording and acts related to that recording, including the CNN interview.
“The NBA Constitution provides Mr. Sterling with the opportunity to respond to the charge by May 27, as well as the right to appear and make a presentation at a special meeting of the Board of Governors,” the statement said. “This hearing, which is planned for June 3, will be presided over by NBA Board of Governors chairman Glen Taylor, the controlling governor of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“The charge asserts that Mr. Sterling engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams. Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and ‘minorities’; directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games; and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities.
“Mr. Sterling’s actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA’s relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA’s relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders. Mr. Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.
“All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA Constitution and related agreements.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver on April 29 banned Sterling for life for racist comments he made on an audio recording. Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million and urged league owners to force him to sell the team.
Sterling and his lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, received written notification of the charges Monday. Blecher has declined comment through his law firm.
Last week in a letter sent to the league by his attorney, Sterling stated that he is not planning to pay the $2.5 million fine imposed by Silver.
Sterling told Cooper in the CNN interview that aired last week that he is not a racist and that he is sorry for his earlier comments.
Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, has said she will fight to keep her 50 percent share of the team even if Sterling is forced to sell, but the league said in its statement that “all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated” if the charge is upheld.
Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, released a statement Monday.
“We have just received the voluminous charges and are beginning the process of carefully reviewing them,” O’Donnell said, according to ESPN.com. “Based on our initial assessment, we continue to believe there is no lawful basis for stripping Shelly Sterling of her 50 percent ownership interest in the Clippers. She is the innocent estranged spouse. We also continue to hope that we can resolve this dispute with the NBA for the good of all constituencies.”