LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Defense attorneys in the case against former Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor want to prevent jurors from hearing about his playing days and any comparisons of his salary with that of a former team coach in an upcoming discrimination case.
Baylor is suing the Clippers and the NBA. Team officials say Baylor resigned in October 2008 after 22 years as general manager. But Baylor — who is black — claims in his 2009 lawsuit that he was “discriminated against and unceremoniously released from his position with the team on account of his age and his race.”
Baylor also claims he was “grossly underpaid during his tenure with the Clippers, never earning more than $350,000 per year, when compared with the compensation scheme for general managers employed by every other team in the NBA.”
The NBA is named in the lawsuit as an alleged “joint venturer/partner of condoning, adopting and ratifying this discriminatory practice since the league is fully aware of salaries paid to all of the general managers.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kenneth Freeman issued a tentative ruling denying motions by the Clippers and the NBA to dismiss Baylor’s case. Team attorney Robert H. Platt said Friday that Freeman has not yet issued a final decision and that the new motions will be heard March 2 if the judge affirms his previous stance.
The Clippers’ attorneys also say the salary of former Coach Mike Dunleavy, who is white, should not be told to the jury. They maintain Baylor has admitted NBA coaches often make more money than general managers and that he should not be able to use Dunleavy’s salary to support his discrimination claims.
“This is the ultimate apples and oranges comparison and it is improper, irrelevant and prejudicial, and will confuse the issues and mislead the jurors,” the team’s attorneys say. “General managers and head coaches are different positions that are paid differently.”
The Clippers qualified for the playoffs four times during Baylor’s 22 seasons as general manager. He was named the NBA Executive of the Year following the 2005-06 season when the Clippers reached the Western Conference semifinals, the farthest they progressed in the playoffs since the 1975-76 season when they were the Buffalo Braves.
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