NBA Begins Process To Terminate Donald Sterling’s Clippers Ownership

The league believes Clippers owner Donald Sterling has “engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams.”

Donald Sterling. Kirby Lee / Reuters

The NBA formally began the process to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, charging that he violated the league’s constitution and by-laws and scheduling a hearing for June 3.

After a recording of Sterling making racist comments leaked, the Clippers owner received a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

The NBA Board of Governors needs to reach a three-fourths vote in order for the league to be able to resell the team, which Sterling has owned since 1981.

According to a press release, Sterling, 80, has “engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams.”

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. Mr. Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.

The real estate mogul has until May 27 to respond to the charge, and can also make a presentation at the special board meeting planned for June 3.

Sterling has said he did nothing wrong. Last week his attorney sent a letter to the NBA stating Sterling intends to sue the league and that he will not pay the fine.

Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, who owns 50% of the team, also doesn’t want to sell the Clippers. Her attorney has said she would not “agree to a forced or involuntary seizure of her interest.”

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