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Donald Sterling responds to NBA, will fight effort to force sale of Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling calls efforts to force the sale of his team 'illegal.'
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Donald Sterling has responded to the NBA over charges his racist remarks damaged the league. He calls efforts to force the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers "illegal."

According to his 32-page response, first reported by USA Today, Sterling says his comments were made during a private conversation and can't be used against him. He called the NBA proceedings a "sham."

His estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, also filed a separate response to the NBA that reportedly asserts her position as an innocent bystander in the league's effort to strip her of her family's ownership of the team.

In a statement from vice president of communications Mike Bass, the NBA said it received separate responses from the lawyers representing Donald and Shelly Sterling that will be distributed -- together with the charge -- to the Board of Governors, who will meet on June 3 to vote on the matter.

"Should the Board vote to sustain the charge, the Sterlings' interests in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold," the NBA said.

Meantime, Pierce O'Donnell, the attorney for Shelly Sterling, issued a statement confirming that "Donald Sterling has authorized Shelly Sterling in writing to negotiate the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, including his 50 percent ownership of the team" and that "Shelly and the NBA are working cooperatively on the transaction."

Shelly Sterling has hired Bank of America to help in the sale of the Clippers, a source familiar with the situation told ABC News.

Shelly Sterling previously shared ownership of the Clippers with her estranged husband but now has control of the team. According to the source, the price being discussed is at least $1 billion. And while several groups are interested in bidding the formal process has not yet started.

Shelly Sterling could sell all of the Clippers while possibly retaining some equity in the team.

ESPN reports that Shelly Sterling has received inquiries from at least six serious bidders, including former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but would not consider selling to anyone who intends to relocate the franchise.

Still, the agreement between the Sterlings has no bearing on action the NBA is taking against Donald Sterling, himself. The NBA has also banned Donald Sterling for life from all league events.

The moves came after audio recordings became public of Donald Sterling making racist comments to his assistant, V. Stiviano.

Donald Sterling told Stiviano not to bring black people to basketball games. He also told her not to post on Instagram photos of herself with black people, including Magic Johnson.

In the aftermath of the scandal, Donald Sterling signed over the team to Shelly.

ABC News and ESPN contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
sports Los Angeles Clippers NBA abc news national Los Angeles
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