Clippers owner Sterling reluctant to sell team unless NBA revokes ban
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling still hasn’t signed off on the deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer because the NBA won’t revoke its $2.5 million fine and lifetime ban, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.
The individual, who wasn’t authorized to talk publicly told The Associated Press that Sterling had agreed to sell the team Wednesday and drop his $1 billion federal lawsuit against the NBA assuming “all their differences had been resolved.” But now he’s considering continuing the suit after being told by intermediaries the NBA won’t budge on the punishments doled out by Commissioner Adam Silver after Sterling’s racist comments were publicized.
Sterling’s consent to his wife Shelly Sterling’s potentially record-breaking $2 billion deal was the first sign of an end to weeks of uncertainty. The NBA’s owners must approve the deal.
Donald Sterling’s comments to V. Stiviano included telling her to not bring black people to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. They resulted in a storm of outrage from the public and players and even prompted President Barack Obama to comment on what he called Sterling’s “incredibly offensive racist statements.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver ultimately decided to ban Donald Sterling for life and began efforts to force Sterling to sell the team.
The lawsuit alleges that the league violated his constitutional rights by relying on information from an “illegal” recording that publicized racist remarks he made to a girlfriend. It also said the league committed a breach of contract by fining Sterling $2.5 million and that it violated antitrust laws by trying to force a sale.
For weeks, Donald Sterling said through his attorneys that he would fight the NBA’s decisions to try to force his ouster as a team owner. But last week Shelly Sterling utilized her authority as sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers, to take bids for the team and ultimately negotiate a deal with Ballmer. And though his attorneys said that Donald Sterling had agreed, days of radio silence followed when he didn’t put ink to paper.
The NBA hasn’t officially commented on the deal yet, but the individual said it appears that the ball is now back in Donald Sterling’s court.
© The Canadian Press, 2014