LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Donald Sterling, the embattled owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, is reportedly breaking his silence.
DuJour magazine is quoting the 80-year-old talking of Vanessa Stiviano, the alleged girlfriend who is heard on a recording of Sterling’s racist rant. Sterling is quoted as saying, “I wish I had just paid her off.”
The magazine’s editor, Jason Binn, also reported that Sterling expressed remorse for the way his situation unfolded. Sterling reportedly also told a reporter for the Jewish Journal, “I am not a racist.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers and the league and fined him $2.5 million earlier this week after an audio clip of him stating racist comments was made public last weekend.
The NBA owners’ advisory/finance committee held their first meeting Thursday to discuss the next steps in removing Sterling as the Clippers’ owner. The 10-member committee is expected to meet again next week.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear on whether the NBA has the right to force the sale of the Clippers.
“The NBA has very specific guidelines that would allow them to force a sale of the team and, at least as I read those guidelines, I didn’t see a specific language that would authorize the sale in the event of bad conduct,” said USC Law Professor Michael Chasalow.
Professor Chasalow says Sterling could have some other options.
“As I understand, it’s owned by a trust so perhaps he could transfer it to a family member or just to other beneficiaries of the trust so that he was no longer the owner,” he explained.
“If he and his wife were to get divorced, I guess, it’s feasible that his wife could wind up with the team and then pay him for the team and then he would no longer be the owner,” he said.
Finally, Chasalow says – pragmatically speaking – the lifetime ban and reaction from sponsors, players, and coaches make it difficult for Sterling to hold on to the team, even if legally is allowed to.
“There’s no accounting for stubbornness but from a rational business perspective, the marketplace is creating a situation where it is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on Donald Sterling now to sell to the highest bidder rather than to keep it and let the value deplete over time,” he said.
On Friday, it was made public that Sterling has been battling prostate cancer for years, according to CBS News and other media outlets.
Neither Sterling nor his attorney have made comments about his health. They’re also not commenting about the lifetime NBA ban and fine imposed. But players said news of his illness came as a shock.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of that and that’s truly unfortunate,” said Chris Paul.
The Clippers will play Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors in Los Angeles at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.