LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The NBA Monday initiated a charge seeking to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The charge asserts Sterling engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams, according to officials.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned the 80-year-old for life from any association with the Clippers and the league and fined him $2.5 million after an audio clip of him making racist comments was made public.
The NBA said Sterling’s actions are grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA Constitution.
“Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and ‘minorities’, directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans, or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games, and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities. Mr. Sterling’s actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA’s relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA’s relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders,” the NBA said in a statement.
If the NBA Board of Governors sustains the charge by a three-fourths vote at the June 3 hearing, all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold to new owners.
In response, Sterling attorney Pierce O’Donnell issued the following statement: “We have just received the voluminous charges and are beginning the process of carefully reviewing them. Based on our initial assessment, we continue to believe there is no lawful basis for stripping Shelly Sterling of her 50 percent ownership interest in the Clippers. She is the innocent estranged spouse. We also continue to hope that we can resolve this dispute with the NBA for the good of all constituencies.”
Sterling, meanwhile, has told the NBA that he denies any wrongdoing, and that he plans to take the issue to court.
Sterling, who has owned the team since 1981, has the opportunity to respond to the charge by May 27, as well as the right to appear and make a presentation at a special meeting of the Board of Governors.