(Photo: Keith Allison)
The Los Angeles Clippers organization has a busy week ahead: National Basketball Association owners are meeting this week on whether to force Donald Sterling to sell the team, as Sterling ponders his legal options; the search is on for a new chief executive to run the Clippers in the meantime; and amid the chaos, the team’s second round of playoff games gets underway.
The Associated Press reported that the NBA’s advisory committee, made up of 10 team owners, met late last week to discuss “the process for termination of Donald T. Sterling’s ownership” of the Clippers over racist comments he made. The group “unanimously agreed to move forward as expeditiously as possible,” according to a league statement, and agreed to meet again this week.
The New York Daily News reported that someone close to Sterling said he plans to sue the NBA if the other 29 owners vote to force a sale. The league has already banned him for life. NBA general counsel Richard Buchanan has declined comment on the legalities.
Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive told the AP that he hopes it doesn’t come down to a legal shootout between the NBA and Sterling. “I don’t want to talk about … the legal side of it,” Ranadive said, adding he hopes Sterling “does the right thing” and just puts the team up for sale.
“It’s not going to be easy to own a team where the fans don’t welcome you, where the sponsors shun you and where you’re not welcomed by the other owners,” he noted.
If Sterling refuses to sell the NBA franchise he has owned since 1981, then most team owners reportedly favor forcing a sale with a three-fourths majority vote. But Sterling may be gaining some sympathy and support after the New York Post recently reported that he is battling prostate cancer.
Meanwhile, the NBA said Saturday it would appoint a chief executive to supervise the Clippers’ operations to ensure the team’s stability. Mike Bass, the NBA executive vice president of communications, said in a statement, “The process of identifying that individual is underway.”
And in other developments, the lawyer for the woman who allegedly taped Sterling’s racial comments told the Los Angeles Times that the recording was made “by mutual agreement.”
Attorney Siamak “Mac” Nehoray told the Times that the woman, who identifies herself as V. Stiviano, is a friend of Sterling’s but not his girlfriend. Stiviano denies being the one who released the tape recording, the story said.
In an interview last Friday with ABC News’ Barbara Walters, Stiviano said she was Sterling’s “best friend and confidante.” She defended Sterling, although she urged him to apologize for his comments.
The Clippers continue to stay above the fray, winning their first round of playoff games last week, and starting their second round—against the Oklahoma City Thunder—this week.