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Sterling says he won't pay NBA fine

By Anne M. Peterson

AP Sports Writer

LAST UPDATED: 01:12 p.m. HST, May 16, 2014

Donald Sterling's lawyer has written the NBA stating the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers does not intend to pay the $2.5 million fine imposed by the league for racist comments, a person with knowledge of the letter's contents said.

Sports Illustrated first reported the letter from Maxwell Blecher. The contents were confirmed by the person who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Blecher, a prominent antitrust attorney, acknowledged sending a letter but would not discuss its contents Friday.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life and imposed the fine following the release late last month of a recording in which Sterling makes racist remarks. Silver also called on owners to oust Sterling from the league, which would require a three-fourths vote among the league's 29 other controlling owners.

"We regard the dispute between Sterling and the NBA to be a private matter," Blecher said. "We do not intend to have a trial in the press."

Blecher said he has known Sterling since the early '80s, when he helped resolve a dispute that allowed the Clippers to move from San Diego to Los Angeles. Sterling has owned the Clippers since 1981.

Sports Illustrated reported that the letter to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan said Sterling would not pay the fine because it violated his right to due process. It also says the controversy "will be adjudicated," according to the report.

The person who spoke to the AP said that if Sterling doesn't pay the fine, the league could withhold $2.5 million from the Clippers when disbursing money to teams.

The league's Advisory/Finance Committee met via conference call as recently as Tuesday, according to league spokesman Mike Bass.

"The committee discussed the recent media appearances by Donald Sterling and Shelly Sterling, received updates on the hiring of Dick Parsons as the Los Angeles Clippers interim CEO and on his meeting yesterday with Clippers employees, and reviewed the status of the charge for termination of the Clippers' ownership," he said in a brief statement.

Bass added that the committee will reconvene next week.

The NBA's constitution, which Donald Sterling signed as controlling owner of the Clippers, gives its board of governors broad latitude in league decisions, including who owns the teams. Article 13 (d) of the constitution says that an owner cannot "fail or refuse to fulfill" contractual obligations to the NBA "in such a way to affect the Association or its members adversely."

Sterling has said he does not want to sell the Clippers. His estranged wife, Shelly, has said she'd like to keep her stake in the team even if her husband is ousted.

In a recent interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sterling cast doubt on going to court if the NBA governors ultimately do vote to force him out.

"People want me to hire a wall of lawyers and them to have to hire a wall of lawyers and go to war," Sterling said on CNN. "I don't think that's the answer."

Sterling also said he was not a racist and apologized for the comments, which he made to a female companion. The recording of their conversation was posted to TMZ.com on April 25 and drew immediate condemnation.

Players threatened to boycott league games and several sponsors suspended their relationship with the Clippers. After Silver's quick rebuke in the days following the recording's release, many of the sponsors returned.

But the issue remains contentious. Star forward LeBron James said Monday that he understands it may take time, but he wants Sterling out of the NBA.

The Clippers were eliminated from the NBA playoffs Thursday night after a 104-98 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals.


AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney, AP Legal Affairs Writer Curt Anderson and Associated Press Writer Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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iwanaknow wrote:
Sterling is laughing all the way to the bank.................he's no dummy...........now he's thinking with his big head.
on May 16,2014 | 10:38AM
AhiPoke wrote:
This is going to get very interesting. While I totally agree that Sterling is an obnoxious bigot that the NBA should get rid of, he also has rights that are protected by our constitution and he's broken no laws. Will the players sacrific their pay, by boycotting games, in order to get rid of him? I don't see too many other ways.
on May 16,2014 | 10:45AM
bully106 wrote:
God bless that old toad. now if he'd just shut up and let his lawyers do the talking for him... political correctness does not entitle the NBA to suck the life out of his business.
on May 16,2014 | 12:50PM
daniwitz13 wrote:
Most Lawyers are siding with the NBA Association. I am hoping that Mr. Sterling wins. He has Freedom of Speech on his side and a privacy issue and perhaps an illegal recording of a private conversation. He did NOT cause the flare-up of others that brought it to the attention of the Media. He did NOT bring it to the Media's attention, others did. What others do is NOT of under is direction. Yes. it was things that he said, BUT in private with his Girlfriend. Did he say anything directly at a Black person? No. Does he bar Blacks from his team? No. Is he unfriendly with his part Black Girlfriend? No. But even then, it is not a crime to be called a Racist. By all evidence, he is NOT a Racists. And it is a Freedom and a Right to be a Racist if one wants to. It is just a word applied, not a deed in fact. He is innocent to me, and should win. Pity
on May 16,2014 | 10:50AM
HanabataDays wrote:
However, if his behavior becomes public and the team owners' group determines it to be a detriment to the image and reputation of the league, they can take action against him as outlined in the legal agreement he signed when he took ownership of the team. There's no constitutional infringement at issue here -- he's free to speak and act as he likes, the government won't restrain or imprison him -- it's purely contractual. He ought to understand how bidness works. His recalcitrance will certainly enrich a bunch of lawyers, but he has zero chance of prevailing.
on May 16,2014 | 03:17PM
ninilchikman wrote:
Good for him. While what he said was disgraceful, he said it in the privacy of his own home and was taped without his knowledge. What someone believes or says in private and in his home should not be used against anyone.
on May 16,2014 | 10:50AM
hawaiikone wrote:
What possible incentive is there for Sterling to pay this fine? He's been banned for life and his team is going to be taken away. What am I missing here?
on May 16,2014 | 10:58AM
cojef wrote:
So far there are 2 post that side with Sterling in that what he said was between two people and it appears his "girlfriend" set him up by releasing their private conversation. His "girlfriend" may became tired of hearing his tirades about her black friends that she kept bringing to the Clippers game, and sitting in the owners seats section. All he was doing was chiding her not bring them along. Jealousy, could be, after all he is and 83 year old man. The Commissioner was influenced by public opinions, especially to placate politically correct group, and forgot that he is among the few owner who started when the NBA was in infancy. Don't condone what he said, but he is supposed to be able to express whatever he feels like saying. It's his right. So we punish him by forcing him to sell his ownership?? Agree that NBA will have a formidable task ahead of them, unless of course, someone will come up with suitable offer to buy 'his' team, like a $1.5 Billion. Previously reported that bought the team for $11 Million. His wife is divorcing him so that's punishment of different color.
on May 16,2014 | 11:23AM
false wrote:
Sterling is right. What he did was done in private and in what he thought was a private conversation with his mistress. It had nothing to do with the NBA or the players. Yes, he has some old fashioned ideas which today are not politically correct in the public venue but he is not alone in his views of blacks and other non-whites. The NBA is going to lose in court.
on May 16,2014 | 11:10AM
retire wrote:
All those things he said about Magic Johnson philandering with women were wrong-it was Wilt Chamberlain.
on May 16,2014 | 11:17AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Sterling has hired Magic Johnson as his new PR guy as long as Magic doesn't take anymore pictures with his 30 year old hottie.
on May 16,2014 | 11:21AM
iwanaknow wrote:
Sterling will come out of all this smilin'.
on May 16,2014 | 11:26AM
iwanaknow wrote:
So if he sells and his ex-wife gets 1/2...............what's the problem? 1/2 a Billion (with a B) can buy you alot of happiness/se* (rhymes with ex) or maybe even a new "girlfriend/archivist"?............. hey mister, buy me a nice car please.
on May 16,2014 | 03:05PM
HanabataDays wrote:
He sounds like a toddler pouting that he WON'T eat his broccoli, NO HE WON'T! He'd better save a bit of his moral outrage and indignation for his interview with St. Pete (don't they say the best defense is a strong offense?) Oh wait, that won't be happening -- his money will keep him alive for eternity. Silly me.
on May 16,2014 | 03:23PM
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