POSTED: 02:48 p.m. HST, May 11, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 07:39 a.m. HST, May 12, 2014
NEW YORK -- The NBA says if Donald Sterling's ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers is terminated, so is his wife's.
Hours after Shelly Sterling said she would fight to keep her ownership of the franchise even if her estranged husband can't, the league said that wouldn't be possible.
League spokesman Mike Bass says that according to the NBA constitution, "if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a three-fourths vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well."
"It doesn't matter whether the owners are related as is the case here," Bass added in a statement. "These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team."
Donald Sterling has been banned for life for making racist comments and Commissioner Adam Silver is urging owners to force him out. But Shelly Sterling told ABC News' Barbara Walters on Sunday that she felt her stake in the team should be separate and that she "would love him to" consider transferring full ownership to her if he is forced to sell.
In a separate interview, his first public comments since being banned for life from the NBA, Sterling apologized for racist comments captured on tape, saying they were a "terrible mistake."
In the interview taped Sunday and set to air Monday with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sterling says he's "not a racist," he loves the league, his partners and believes he's "entitled to one mistake" after more than three decades as an owner.
The interview came nearly two weeks after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for his comments, fined him $2.5 million and urged the other league owners to force him to sell the team.
Sterling said he waited to make a public apology because he was "emotionally distraught" and he didn't know how to correct his mistake.