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

INSTANT REPLAY: The week’s best sports photos

cavaliers

A look back at some of the week's biggest plays in sports and the moments you may have missed.

in Sports

This weekend’s sports schedule

hockey

Here's a look at some of the big sporting events taking place this weekend.

in Sports

Sepp Blatter wins re-election as FIFA president

FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks during a press conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. FIFA will not reopen the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and will publish at least some of the confidential report into the bidding process, Blatter said Friday.

Sepp Blatter's FIFA re-election came despite demands that he quit in the face of a major bribery scandal.

in Sports

WATCH: Preserving Muhammad Ali’s childhood home

15-overlay7

An effort is underway to restore the Louisville home where the boxing legend grew up.

in Sports

Sharper set for change-of-plea in sex assault case

darrensharper

The former NFL star is closer to resolving charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted women in four states.