NBA Owners Take Up Clipper Sale

By City News Service

A 10-member advisory/finance committee of NBA owners will meet today to begin discussing the steps required to force Donald Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that Sterling was banned for life from the league for making racist remarks that were recorded and made public over the weekend on a pair of websites. Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum amount the NBA can assess. The funds will be donated to anti-discrimination groups jointly identified by the NBA and the league’s players’ association.

Sterling is barred from having any association with the team which means he may not attend any NBA games or practices and is barred from going to any Clippers facilities. He also may not be involved in any decisions involving the team.

Alex Nogales, left, and his colleagues from the National Hispanic Media Coalition demonstrated support to the NBA’s decision to ban Clipper Owner Donald Sterling for life.  (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Alex Nogales, left, and his colleagues from the National Hispanic Media Coalition demonstrated support to the NBA’s decision to ban Clipper Owner Donald Sterling for life. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

He is also barred from any NBA league activities or meetings.

Silver said Tuesday he “will do everything in my power to ensure” that the sale happens.

Sterling has owned the team since 1981.

“The central findings of the (NBA’s) investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording … is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling,” Silver said. “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful.”

Sterling’s remarks were made in a telephone conversation with V. Stiviano, who has been rumored to be linked romantically to Sterling. On the recording, the man reported to have been Sterling castigates Stiviano for an Instagram picture of her with Dodgers star Matt Kemp and Dodgers part-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson and tells her not to bring black people to “my games.”

The public release of the recordings sparked outrage here in Los Angeles and across the country. More than a dozen corporations have dropped or suspended their sponsorships of the Clippers in response to Sterling’s comments. Whether they will resume their association is not yet clear.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council weighed in on the controversy and moved to censure Sterling. On a unanimous vote, the council approved a motion that denounces the statements and demands that Sterling apologize to Angelenos and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, an “iconic, national figure” who was a target of some of the remarks.

Councilman Bernard Parks, who introduced the motion, said during a Tuesday morning news conference that the city has a “long-standing tradition” of fighting against racial discrimination.

The motion reflects the city’s desire to “condemn the statements made by Mr. Sterling and clearly separate itself from those statements,” Parks said.

After the council’s vote, several members joined a news conference by Garcetti and current and former NBA players outside City Hall to hail the league’s decision to ban Sterling for life. They also urged fans to continue supporting Clippers players.

While it appears the NBA’s Board of Governors can force a sale, if three-quarters of the 29 NBA team owners vote in favor of such a move, it remains to be see if Sterling will challenge such a decision in court, despite his franchise containing a “no recourse clause,” according to several media reports. Silver said Tuesday he was confident he would have enough support to force Sterling out.

In the meantime, rumors are already swirling about potential buyers of the franchise, which Sterling bought in 1981 for $12.5 million but is now valued at least $575 million — making it the league’s 13th most valuable team, according to Forbes.

CBS News reported that Oprah Winfrey was interested in partnering with entertainment industry mogul David Geffen to buy the team, if it becomes available. Officials from Geffen’s office told the Los Angeles Times that Geffen “would be interested in buying the franchise” if Sterling puts it up for sale.

Speculation is that other possible suitors could include many of the same groups that were interested in buying the Dodgers when they were put up for sale.

Real estate developer Rick Caruso told The Times he would also be interested in leading or joining a group to buy the franchise. Magic Johnson’s name has also surfaced, although he has downplayed the rumors.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. also told The Times he would like to put together a group to make an offer and was “very, very interested in buying the Clippers”

Patrick Soon-Shiong — a billionaire doctor, biotech investor and longtime Los Angeles sports fan who previously bought Johnson’s stake in the Lakers, according to news reports is also believed to be interested in the Clippers.

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May 1, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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