Sterling says NBA ban, forced sale is illegal: LA Times

Wed May 28, 2014 2:41am EDT

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (C), his wife Shelly (L) attend the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, in this December 22, 2008 file photo.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/Files

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (C), his wife Shelly (L) attend the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, in this December 22, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok/Files

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(Reuters) - Donald Sterling, banned from owning a pro basketball team for inflammatory remarks he made about African Americans, called the National Basketball Association's action illegal because it was based on a "lover's quarrel" that was "illegally recorded."

"This was an argument between a jealous man and the woman he loved that should never have left the privacy of the living room," Sterling said in a letter to the NBA obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the letter.

Sterling, controlling owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for 33 years, came under fire after posted an audio recording of him criticizing a female friend for publicly associating with black people, including NBA great "Magic" Johnson.

The NBA said in a statement on Tuesday night that it had received a response from Donald and Shelly Sterling regarding his termination, and added that the league's Board of Governors will hold a vote on eliminating Sterling's stake at a hearing set for June 3, when he can address the charges before his fellow owners.

If at least 23 of the other 29 owners vote to terminate Sterling's ownership of the franchise, the Clippers would have to be sold, the NBA said.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week he would prefer to let Donald Sterling and his wife Shelley Sterling sell the team "on a reasonable timetable" rather than proceed with trying to forcibly terminate their ownership.

Sterling handed controlling interest in his team to his wife, the co-owner, and she began negotiating with the league to sell the club, Reuters reported on Friday, citing sources.

Sterling said in the letter that he has received offers "in excess of $2.5 billion" for the team, but did not name potential buyers.

(Reporting By Ronald Grover; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Comments (7)
shayneedward wrote:
Fight it in court. Crap like this needs to go to SCOTUS. Can a man lose his job for a comment he makes privately, in the privacy of his own home, not knowing he was being recorded?

I in no way support what this man said. Racism is ignorant. But if we can be held responsible for privately expressed opinions, 1984 is now, and I’m scared for the future.

All his players should seek employment with other clubs. People should, if they feel so led, boycott his games. But to be fined $2.5 mil and lose his job is just wrong.

May 28, 2014 1:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Are we sure we are still a republic? Doesn’t the Constitution still have the first amendment in it? We do not have to agree with a man’s opinion or words, but we do need to acknowledge his right to do so. It is one of the rights in our country that differentiates us from the rest of the world.

Does the NBA legally have the right to force an owner out of business because he has unpopular and controversial personal opinions? Or, is it just another statement of political correctness disguised as empathy for a race of people. Two wrongs never make one right.

May 28, 2014 7:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JimVan wrote:
Sterling used a criminal enterprise to become a billionaire (settling housing discrimination claims out-of-court doesn’t change anything but the tenor and tone of what he did). Was ‘criminal’ too strong or am I to hear about distinctions between civil law and criminal law (real winners there like ‘civil theft’) or split more hairs about natural law. common law, constitutional law, administrative law, and so on. And when I’ve been involved in commercial real estate since 1982, in a situation where we roll back the years and examine his qualifications to become an owner-member of the NBA, I have to question what was learned and disregarded or never discovered in the absence of professional due diligence. My experience with wealthy slumlords would always find the fleecing of HUD (our taxes, you and me) using all the cunning and dirty tricks that an amoral scumbag can dredge up. The recorded conversation and its ‘shades of 1984′ mentioned in another comment here doesn’t necessarily hold up. Not when state law rather than federal law governs recorded conversations. In California, a ‘public’ conversation can be recorded and in the conversation I heard once, there was a third party interruption who may have been a waitress (I don’t know). The fact is that Sterling joined an association and is subject to its rules. For example, the State of Colorado says the Nuggets can smoke weed when NBA bylaws say they can’t. Reports about Elgin Baylor’s tenure as GM as well as the Rollie Massimino coaching interview are consistent with his discriminatory housing practices in suggesting that Sterling is a racist, that exploitation is one of his customary business practices, that he’s guilty of hostile business practices while operating the Clippers organization, and to drag him through the mud even more, he’s a slippery and sleazy lawyer. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’ll take him fishing in rough seas and sort it out. He’s well-paid human waste and society doesn’t escape blame for aiding or facilitating him in any way.

May 28, 2014 8:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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