News

Sterling suit against NBA holds up Clippers’ sale

Sterling suit against NBA holds up Clippers’ sale

CLIPPERS CONTROVERSY: The NBA commissioner also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the league's maximum monetary penalty, and urged its 29 other team owners to take the unprecedented step of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers, which he bought in 1981 for $12.5 million. Photo: Associated Press

By Lisa Maria Garza

SAN ANTONIO Texas (Reuters) – National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver said on Sunday a single obstacle blocked completion of the $2-billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers – a lawsuit brought by embattled owner Donald Sterling against the league.

Sterling, 80, sued the NBA and Silver on May 30 seeking at least $1 billion in damages just as the league tentatively approved a deal by his estranged wife, co-owner of the franchise, to sell the club to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Days later, Sterling’s lawyer, Max Blecher, said his client had agreed to the sale and would withdraw the lawsuit. But Silver said the case was still pending and was holding up a final disposition of the deal.

“We’re almost there. There is this last piece, and that is the lawsuit that Donald brought against the League and me personally,” Silver told reporters before Game 2 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio.

PHOTOS: Banned from sports

In an email, Blecher told Reuters that no decision had been made on the lawsuit and all options were under consideration.

At a news conference before Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Silver said there was “absolutely no possibility” of rescinding the lifetime ban or the $2.5-million fine he handed down to Sterling following his racist remarks.

Sterling was banned for life from the NBA in April after a tape recording of disparaging remarks he made about black people was leaked to the celebrity news website TMZ.com, igniting an uproar among fans, players and commercial sponsors of his team.

The NBA commissioner also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the league’s maximum monetary penalty, and urged its 29 other team owners to take the unprecedented step of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers, which he bought in 1981 for $12.5 million.

After first threatening not to relinquish the team without a fight, Sterling ceded a controlling interest in the team to his wife, Shelly, who was already a 50-percent co-owner through a family trust, for the purpose of negotiating a sale.

After she struck a deal to sell the Clippers to Ballmer for a league record $2 billion, Sterling sued the NBA, seeking, among other things, to recoup the capital gains taxes he would have to pay, though Blecher later said the lawsuit would be dropped.

“I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling, she agreed to indemnify the league against a lawsuit by her husband. So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that. While I understand he is frustrated, I think it’s over,” Silver said.

(Additional reporting by Supriya Kurane and Ankush Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Steve Gorman, Ron; Popeski and Clarence Fernandez)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

MLB: 4 Royals elected All-Star starters

joseallstar

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve passed Kansas City's Omar Infante in the final days of voting, leaving four Royals as starters for the All-Star Game.

in Sports

Serena downs Venus to reach Wimbledon quarters

serenawimbledon

A contest featuring the sisters, who between them have hoisted the Rosewater Dish 10 times, should have been a blockbuster but turned out to be yet another awkward anti-climax.

in Sports

McIlroy suffers severe ankle injury ahead of British Open

mcilroy

Rory McIlroy's defense of golf's British Open has been thrown into doubt.

in Sports

WATCH: Women’s World Cup highlights

21-overlay1

A true explosion of goals between the United States and Japanese made for a very entertaining Women's World Cup Final.

in National, Sports, World

U.S. triumph caps truly global Women’s World Cup

carliworldcup

The United States returned to the pinnacle of women's soccer with a 5-2 crushing of Japan in Sunday's Women's World Cup final at the end of a riveting tournament that pushed the sport into new territory.