Donald and Shelly Sterling have taken their fight to retain their ownership stakes in the Los Angeles Clippers to the airwaves, but the league’s biggest star says it won’t wash with players.
“As players, we want what’s right and we don’t feel like no one in his family should be able to own the team,” James said (via the Associated Press) Sunday afternoon.
Sterling has been banned for life for making racist comments and Commissioner Adam Silver has urged owners to force Sterling to sell the team he has owned for 33 years. No decision, though, has been made about the team’s other owners…and Shelly Sterling owns half the team. Clippers players protested the day after Sterling’s comments became public and players across the league were prepared to boycott the playoffs if they had deemed Silver’s punishment insufficient.
”At the end of the day, this is going to be a long litigation when it comes to that,” said James, who was one of the first to speak out against Sterling after his comments were made public. “This guy who’s owned the team since the ’80s is not going to just give the team up in a day. So we understand it’s going to be long, but we want what’s right.”
Donald Sterling, in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that will air tonight, asks for forgiveness.
“I’m a good member who made a mistake and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness,” he said. “Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It’s a terrible mistake, and I’ll never do it again. … If the owners feel I have another chance, then they’ll give it to me.”
Shelly Sterling told Barbara Walters that she intends to divorce her husband and wants to retain ownership as a silent partner of a new owner because, she said, the team is her “passion” and “legacy” to her children.
“I will fight that decision,” she told Walters. “To be honest with you, I’m wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there’s 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?”
Pierce O’Donnell, Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, said she was “trying to resolve this” amicably with the NBA, but if that wasn’t possible, “we’re going to be in the courts.”
The NBA in a statement Sunday disputed that Shelly Sterling would have a case:
“Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner’s interest is terminated by a 3/4 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. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team.”