STERLING CHANGES LAWYER FOR BATTLE AHEAD
NBA Increases Pressure to Remove Him
By Mitch Chortkoff
As Donald Sterling prepares for a lawsuit against the NBA that could last for many years he has dismissed his longtime council and chosen an old ally.
The firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips is out. Veteran anti-trust lawyer Maxwell Blecher is in.
Sterling is 80. Blecher is 81. Blecher last represented Sterling when he moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984.
Blecher sent a letter to the NBA last week that said Sterling will not pay the $2.5 million fine the NBA has charged him with.
On Monday the NBA initiated a charge against Sterling for damaging the league that would allow them to sell the franchise if 75 per cent of the owners vote him out. It’s believed the vote will be close to 100 percent.
Sterling has until May 27 to respond or can appear at a June 3 Board Of Governors meeting headed by Glen Taylor, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
A lingering issue among the players is what will happen if Sterling is still the owner when training camp opens in October to begin next season.
According to my sources, several players won’t report because they’ll refuse to play for a team owned by Sterling considering the racial comments he has made.
How serious that situation could become will depend on court decisions before then. A judge could uphold the NBA’s position to remove Sterling as owner. He could appeal and remain the owner in name but he’d have nothing to do with the team’s operations.
Sterling has chosen to frequently criticize Magic Johnson in recent months. Johnson was the featured speaker at a dinner in Chicago last week and was asked about Sterling.
“There’s no place in our society for racism," he said.