Skip to main content

NBA will still force sale of L.A. Clippers, rebuffs Sterlings' offer

By Michael Martinez and Brian Todd, CNN
updated 8:43 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Clippers decline to comment on NBA announcement
  • NBA will proceed with hearing on forced sale on June 3
  • Shelly Sterling is negotiating with NBA about voluntary sale, source says
  • Donald and Shelly Sterling agree to sell Clippers voluntarily, source says

Los Angeles (CNN) -- The National Basketball Association will proceed with a vote to force a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, rebuffing an effort by co-owners Donald and Shelly Sterling to sell the franchise voluntarily, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said Friday.

"We continue to follow the process set forth in the NBA Constitution regarding termination of the current ownership interests in the Los Angeles Clippers and are proceeding toward a hearing on this matter on June 3," Bass said.

His announcement followed reports earlier Friday about how Donald and Shelly Sterling agreed to a voluntary sale of the NBA franchise as the league prepares a vote on a forced sale, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The couple have an agreement to allow Shelly Sterling to do the negotiations, and there have already been discussions between her and the NBA, according to the source.

New Stiviano texts released
Shelly Sterling to handle Clippers sale?
Donald Sterling's fight to keep Clippers
NBA makes legal move to oust Sterling
Sterling: 'I made such a mistake'

Attorneys for the Sterlings, who earlier declined to comment about the couple's effort for a voluntary sale, weren't immediately available to react to Bass' statement. The Clippers declined to comment on the NBA statements, spokesman Seth Burton said.

Friday's events signal how the NBA is standing by its ultimatum that a vote will be held on a forcible sale.

For their part, the Sterlings appear to be running out of options -- short of suing the league -- and analysts say such a lawsuit wouldn't be inconceivable, as Sterling is an attorney well versed in litigation.

Meanwhile, pressure grows for Donald Sterling, a real estate billionaire. He faces a deadline Tuesday to respond to the NBA's proposal to terminate his ownership in the team because of racist remarks he made.

The NBA has banned Donald Sterling for life, and the league is advancing a vote by other team owners that would force the couple to sell the franchise.

The ban and pending vote -- along with a $2.5 million fine against Donald Sterling -- arise from how he slurred African-Americans.

A voluntary sale would be a new maneuver for the Sterlings. Last week, Donald Sterling hired an antitrust lawyer to fight the NBA about the proposed forced sale. And his wife has said she wanted to keep an ownership stake in the team but doesn't want to be the controlling partner.

The couple own the team through a trust. They are also estranged, Shelly Sterling's attorney has said.

The NBA contends it was damaged by the 80-year-old's racist remarks to associate V. Stiviano, 31, that were captured on an audiotape and posted online in April by TMZ and in an interview with CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°."

"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," the NBA said in a recent statement.

In order to terminate the Sterlings' franchise rights, three-fourths of the team owners (23 of 30) would have to vote to sustain the charge and force a sale. Because Sterling is banned from any NBA activities, he is not allowed to vote, but the Clippers will have a vote, the NBA said.

Report: NBA says Donald Sterling asked V. Stiviano to lie

NBA charges Donald Sterling, schedules June 3 vote

CNN's Stephanie Elam and Jack Hannah contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Racism in sports
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
The man who hastened Sterling's departure isn't ready to call it a done deal.
updated 8:06 PM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
A woman sued Donald Sterling, alleging that he sexually harassed her and made her uncomfortable with racist remarks -- and that he once fired her after she objected.
updated 3:03 PM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling says he's sorry but feels he was "baited" to make racist comments.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
The NBA's commissioner orders Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling out of his team's business over racist remarks.
updated 5:31 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off during an AC Milan soccer match in Italy, but Dani Alves turned to humor in dealing with racist abuse during a Spanish league game.
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Dani Alves' response to a fan throwing a banana at him during Barcelona's trip to Villarreal on Sunday drew huge praise from the football world.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
The players in the National Basketball Association spoke out Sunday about racist comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
updated 6:36 PM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a billionaire real estate mogul who's owned the team for more than three decades.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
updated 9:49 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
"Move on, Jews! Your home is at Auschwitz! Send you to the gas (chamber)!"
updated 7:24 PM EDT, Fri March 14, 2014
French soccer star Nicolas Anelka has decided to quit English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion following his punishment for making a controversial "quenelle" gesture.
updated 4:11 PM EDT, Sat October 12, 2013
Team owners strongly dispute any racism behind the mascot and won't change it, saying the Redskins name honors "where we came from, who we are."
updated 4:14 PM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013
Tottenham Hotspur fans have seen the term
English football fans have been warned they face criminal prosecution if they continue to chant a word which has been deemed anti-Semitic.
updated 2:09 PM EDT, Fri May 31, 2013
FIFA approved tougher penalties for racist behavior, including possible relegation, in a move that one anti-racism organization said will bring soccer "in line" with other sports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT