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Shelly Sterling approves NBA plan for new Clippers CEO

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 12:34 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Donald Sterling has been banned from Clippers' team operations
  • His wife is a co-owner in the team, which was bought in 1981
  • She said the team will help the league find a "fresh, accomplished" new leader
  • NBA also wants Donald Sterling to be forced to sell now successful team

(CNN) -- The estranged wife of banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling says she supports the decision by the National Basketball Association and the team to work together to find the franchise a new chief executive officer.

Shelly Sterling, a co-owner of the Clippers, said she spoke with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to tell him she supported his decision to fine her husband $2.5 million and ban him for life after racist remarks by Donald Sterling became public.

"We also agreed at that time that, as a next step, both the league and the team should work together to find some fresh, accomplished executive leadership for the Clippers," Shelly Sterling said in a written statement Saturday.

Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced he will sell the team in light of an offensive email he sent. Levenson is not the first sports team owner to face the consequences of his actions: Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced he will sell the team in light of an offensive email he sent. Levenson is not the first sports team owner to face the consequences of his actions:
Team owners behaving badly
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Sterling's wife welcomes team CEO search
NBA to move quickly on Sterling

Her statement didn't mention the potential sale of the team, which Silver has said he will press the other 29 ownership groups to mandate through a vote.

The league said in a news release that now that Donald Sterling is banned from team operations, it is best that the league step in temporarily.

"The best way to ensure the stability of the team during this difficult situation is to move quickly and install a CEO to oversee the Clippers organization," NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass said in a statement. "The process of identifying that individual is under way."

While the team has been distracted off the court, it has continued winning on it. The Clippers defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-121 Saturday to win its first-round series in the NBA playoffs.

The Clippers will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday in the Western Conference semifinals.

NBA to name new CEO for the Clippers

V. Stiviano speaks

After dodging the media for days, the woman who recorded Donald Sterling making the racist remarks urged him to apologize.

In an exclusive interview with ABC's Barbara Walters on Friday, V. Stiviano said Sterling is hurting after the scandal that turned him into a sports pariah.

"I think he feels very alone. Not truly supported by those around him," Stiviano, 31, said. "Tormented. Emotionally traumatized."

But, she told Walters, this is not the first time they've discussed race.

"There's been a number of occasions where Mr. Sterling and I had conversations just like this one," she said. "Part of what the world heard was only 15 minutes. There's a number of other hours that the world doesn't know."

One recording of Sterling's conversation released last month triggered a firestorm that led to his ban and league-record fine.

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Donald Sterling's legal options

In the audio, the billionaire tells Stiviano not to "promote" her relationship with black people or bring them to games after she posted a picture on social media with NBA legend Magic Johnson.

Stiviano said Sterling should apologize for the comments and has discussed it with him.

"God only knows," she said when asked if he will apologize.

Stiviano's attorney has said she did not leak the audio tape.

Shelly Sterling is suing Stiviano, saying the woman received cash and property purchased with the couple's money. Stiviano says the items were gifts.

On Friday, Donald Sterling was quoted on DuJour.com as saying "I wish I had just paid her off" in reference to Stiviano. The site, which specified that Sterling was referring to Stiviano in a discussion with one of its writers, didn't state when the remark was made.

Donald Sterling's fall

Other NBA owners, players and sports commentators called for swift, firm punishment after TMZ posted the audio featuring the racist comments purportedly made on April 9.

Silver heeded their call, issuing sweeping sanctions against Donald Sterling on Tuesday.

Under the lifetime ban, Sterling is prohibited from NBA games or practices, stepping foot inside any Clippers facility, taking part in business or personnel decisions or having a role in league activities such as attending NBA Board of Governors meetings.

If Sterling does sell the team, he'd profit considerably. He bought the Clippers for $12 million in 1981, and the team is now worth $575 million, according to Forbes magazine.

CNN's Faith Karimi, Joe Sutton and Ralph Ellis contributed to this story.

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