LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons was named on Friday to serve as interim chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Clippers while the National Basketball Association prepares for an unprecedented bid to force out the team’s owner, Donald Sterling.
Parson’s appointment came three days after Sterling’s top lieutenant, Andy Roeser, was placed on indefinite leave as team president and more than a week after the NBA banned Sterling over racist comments that sparked outrage from players, fans and commercial sponsors.
Sterling, 80, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, now faces an attempt by the league to force a sale of his franchise in a scandal that has unfolded at the end of the team’s best season on record.
An NBA committee of 10 fellow owners or their representatives initiated the process of terminating Sterling’s ownership by voting unanimously last week to proceed “as expeditiously as possible.”
Parsons, a senior consultant at the investment firm Providence Equity Partners and one-time member of President Barack Obama’s economic advisory team, is one of a relatively few African-Americans to have headed major U.S. corporations.
He joined Time Warner in 1995 as president of the media conglomerate and was chairman and CEO there from 2002 until 2008. He later served as chairman of Citigroup until stepping down from that post in 2012.
“I believe the hiring of Dick Parsons will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.
Sterling, who bought the Clippers in 1981 for about $13 million, came under fire on April 25 when the website TMZ.com posted an audio recording with a voice said to be his criticizing a female friend for associating with black people.
Four days later, the NBA fined Sterling $2.5 million, the league’s maximum monetary penalty, and banned him from pro basketball for life, saying Sterling had acknowledged to the NBA that the recording was authentic and had not offered an apology.
Silver also has called on the league’s 29 other owners who sit on the NBA’s governing board to take the unprecedented step of forcing Sterling to relinquish ownership of the Clippers. Such a move requires a three-fourths majority of the board under the NBA’s bylaws and constitution.
Sterling has not said whether he would give up his team, now valued by some experts at up to $1 billion, without a fight.
Reporting by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills