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NBA charges Sterling, sets up June 3 hearing

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:52 p.m. HST, May 19, 2014


NEW YORK >> The NBA charged Donald Sterling on Monday with damaging the league and its teams with his racist comments, setting up a hearing planned for June 3 after which owners could vote to terminate his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The league also said the banned owner has engaged in other conduct that has impaired its relationship with fans and merchandising partners.

"All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA constitution and related agreements," the league said in a statement.

Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by Commissioner Adam Silver after the release of a recording in which he made racist remarks. He has until May 27 to respond to the charge, and the right to appear at the hearing and make a presentation in front of the board of governors.

Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, the chairman of the board, will preside over the hearing, which is planned for two days before the start of the NBA Finals. If three-fourths of the owners vote to sustain the charge, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.

Silver has said he is confident he has the votes.

Sterling told a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to bring blacks to Clipper games during their conversation that was recorded. Sterling specifically mentioned Magic Johnson, then criticized the NBA Hall of Famer again as a poor model during a recent interview with CNN.

"Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and 'minorities'; directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games; and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities," the NBA said.

The league also charged Sterling with issuing a false and misleading press statement about the matter.

Article 13 of the NBA's constitution, which deals with termination of ownership, states that one of the conditions is if an owner fails or refuses "to fulfill its contractual obligations to the Association, its members, players, or any other third party in such a way as to affect the Association or its members adversely."

A number of sponsors suspended their deals with the Clippers in the wake of Sterling's remarks, potentially hurting league revenues, and players have said they would consider a boycott next season.

"Mr. Sterling's actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA's relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA's relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders," the league said.

If Sterling does not respond to the charge within five business days, or appear at the hearing, it would be deemed an admission of the "total validity of the charges as presented," according to the constitution.

But even the players who want him out believe Sterling will fight, and his attorney sent a letter to the league last week informing it that Sterling wouldn't be paying the fine.

His estranged wife, Shelly, has said she will fight to keep her 50 percent share of the team even if Donald Sterling is forced to sell, but the league said in its statement that "all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated" if the charge is upheld.






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CriticalReader wrote:
Insofar as multi (or even 100's of ) million dollar forced divestitures go, these charges sound pretty flimsy. All of the harms appear to be "speculative". I'd be interested in seeing whether or not the sponsors ACTUALLY walk, the fans ACTUALLY don't buy season tickets (both provably due directly to Sterling's statements - in Indianapolis? Or Brooklyn? Or Oklahoma?; Did playoff attendance go down?), and most intriguing, if the NBA players actually "boycott", risking being cut on the lower half of rosters, being ousted if they are unproductive with inflated contracts (for non-performance), or even risking hurting their personal celebrity brands for upper echelon players. Seems like those things would have to happen first, AND THEN the NBA would have grounds.
on May 19,2014 | 11:07AM
Bdpapa wrote:
I'm not condoning what he did, but the NBA are coming from a weak position. Gonna come down to best lawyer.
on May 19,2014 | 11:11AM
CriticalReader wrote:
It's really beginning to look like Silver jumped the gun on this one. Seems like those charges could easily be leveled against just about any NBA owner TODAY for anything they've done or said in the past year. What happens when businesses start fleeing sponsorship slots because they don't like a Democrat card carrying owner's politics? Or, fans decide they're upset with an owner for letting a LeBron like player take his talents elsewhere and refuse to buy tickets? Or the players get calls and messages from either Magic or Oprah (along with the other losers in the Clippers acquisition sweepstakes's), and are told: "eh, threaten boycott over Golden State's racist firing of Mark Jackson and replacement with Kerr - because it's an obvious nod toward "white supremacy"".
on May 19,2014 | 11:26AM
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