STERLING APOLOGIZES, WIFE VOWS TO FIGHT
By Mitch Chortkoff
Donald Sterling, the disgraced owner of the Clippers, went on the Anderson Cooper television show over the weekend and apologized for racial remarks that have the NBA attempting to force him to sell the franchise.
“I said a terrible thing but I am not a racist,” he said. “I feel so sorry for the people I’ve hurt.”
Despite the apology, Sterling is investigating the possibility of suing the NBA for $1.7 billion.
In a related development, Sterling’s wife Shelly
went on the Barbara Walters television show and vowed to fight if the NBA attempts to have her sell the 50 per cent of the franchise she owns.
Asked what she’ll do if forced to sell she replied: “I will fight.”
The stance she is adopting comes as a major disappointment to Clipper personnel who previously regarded her as a non combative person.
On the day her husband was told he’d be forced to
sell the Clippers she wanted to attend a playoff game against Golden State.
She asked Coach Doc Rivers if that was possible. He arranged for her to sit in a luxury suite accompanied by bodyguards.
However, in recent days Shelly Sterling has talked about her desire to keep her 50 per cent of the franchise.
Asked about the matter, Rivers said “I don’t want to be quoted about this but I can tell you a lot of people in the organization are unhappy.”
The NBA issued a statement on the matter.
“According to the NBA Constitution if an owner is removed by a 75 per cent of the committee all members of his ownership group are terminated too.
“It has nothing to do if the parties are married.”
In the announcement the NBA revealed that all owners have agreed to this condition.
Last week, as the NBA plotted strategy to remove Sterling as the Clippers’ owner, few details were revealed.
Now, however, with the help of sources close to the story, some of the league’s strategy is becoming known.
The key to the NBA’s case, apparently, is that Sterling has signed moral and ethical contracts with
the league over the years. The league is confident it has documents revealing Sterling’s actions through the years.
The league’s finance/advisory committee held its second meeting last Wednesday to discuss the timetable in removing Sterling as owner.
A key development in the case was announced last week when the league was able to have Clippers president Andy Roeser take an indefinite leave of absence.
This removed a potential roadblock as Roeser has been Sterling’s right hand man for 30 years. Roeser’s absence will allow a new CEO appointed to monitor Clipper business to operate more smoothly.
The NBA revealed the name of the interim CEO Monday, Dick Parsons, former CEO of Citigroup and Time Warner.
Sterling has issued a barrage of criticism toward Magic Johnson, a strange sidelight to his current case. It was so strong this week that Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement.
“On behalf of the NBA I apologize to Magic Johnson for being dragged into this malicious and personal attack,” he said.
It would seem Sterling has enough problems without picking a fight with Johnson, one of the most popular sports figures in history.
With all this going on the Clippers defeated Oklahoma City Sunday, 101-99 to even their second round playoff series at 2-2.
The teams played again Tuesday night in Oklahoma and the Clippers lost, 105-104.
There was a controversial call with 11seconds left. The Thunder was awarded the ball out of bounds although it appeared the ball went off Thunder guard Reggie Jackson.
“They got it wrong,” said Rivers. “It was a game-deciding call, maybe a series deciding call. We were robbed.”
Now trailing, 3-2, the Clippers were scheduled to host Game 6 Thursday. A seventh game, if necessary, will be played Sunday in Oklahoma.
Bosmat Eynav contributed to this article