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Report: NBA believes it can force out Shelly Sterling

May 10, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, his wife Shelly, and actor George Segal attend the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Reuters

If Magic Johnson is right and the Clippers players won’t play for a Shelly Sterling-owned team, they might be in luck.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The NBA believes it has the legal grounds to oust both Shelly Sterling and her husband as owners, despite the fact that commissioner Adam Silver’s punishments were specifically leveled only against Donald, according to sources with knowledge of the league’s legal strategy.

She has publicly and privately cooperated with the league in its actions to ban her husband for life and move to oust him from ownership. However, the league’s contention will be that Shelly Sterling — while entitled to a 50 percent interest in the franchise — has never been approved by the board of governors as the controlling owner. She and team president Andy Roeser, who went on an indefinite leave of absence this week, were only alternate governors.

At face value, the NBA’s argument makes sense. There’s no way the board of governors would ever approve her now, so even with Donald headed out, she couldn’t just slide in and take control.

However, Donald signed moral and ethical contracts as controlling owner. It’s not clear Shelly did, and I really can’t see a reason she would have been asked to.

And what if she’s not trying to gain the privileges of being a controlling owner?

Shelly’s lawyer previously said his client would fight NBA punishment levied on her, but she’s not fighting to become controlling owner. Shelburne:

Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, told ESPN on Friday that his client was “trying to resolve this” amicably with the NBA, but if that wasn’t possible, “We’re going to be in the courts.”

Her position, at this time, O’Donnell said, was to maintain her 50 percent interest in the team for the rest of her life. However, she does not want to be the team’s controlling owner and would welcome “a new, dynamic management team and investors to come in.”

Shelly’s views on this have been confounding, but she might have a sound argument now.

Adam Silver clearly said Donald – not Shelly – had been banned by the NBA. So, how can the league remove her as a non-controlling owner?

If she’s intent on remaining an owner, holding a non-controlling interest might be an acceptable, if unsatisfying, compromise for the league. But for the players, that would be a whole other outlook.

  1. muathjam21 - May 10, 2014 at 6:41 PM


  2. 1harrypairatesties - May 10, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    You people who relay these comments are cowards. If you don’t like the comment you won’t post it.

  3. phinagain - May 10, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    If the players refuse to play and the coaches refuse to coach until she is no longer an owner, then the NBA gets its legs to oust her back under it. And if the sponsors continue to stay away, that would also do it. Her ownership, even as a non-controlling owner, would be causing the league significant financial detriment.

    To paraphrase marshawn lynch, just ’bout that money, boss.

    • blackandbluedivision - May 11, 2014 at 3:44 AM

      has the legs but not the legal standing. The only thing the players and coaching and sponsors boycott would do is force her to sell her share. If in fact she does have legal standing to that 50%. The NBA’s hands would be tied. It would just be on her. She would own 50% of nothing. Plus, she doesn’t want controlling interest in the team.So no one in their right mind would want that other 50% controlling interest if the players and coaches would not play and no sponsorship.

  4. zackd2 - May 10, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    “There’s no way the board of governors would ever approve her now”

    And the official reason would be what? “Your husband made racist comments”

    That’s a hard precedent to set. Comments of your spouse.

    • savvybynature - May 10, 2014 at 7:06 PM

      Does kinda make you wonder what the spouse’s of other NBA owners could be caught saying if they were illegally recorded.
      The precedent might be particularly interesting for those looking to blackmail the owner of an NBA team. Sterling didn’t pay this Stiviano person this time, but I’d bet the next owner will.

    • muathjam21 - May 10, 2014 at 7:21 PM

      You didn’t finish.

      “You husband was illegally recorded making racist comments in what he thought was a private conversation.”

      Doesn’t justify Sterling’s views, but those are HIS views, and punishing the entire family because his mistress attempted extortion DOES set a terrible precedent.

      And then you have people like Magic Johnson and Floyd Mayweather ruffling feathers not because they’re oh so offended, but only because they want to buy an LA basketball team – and this might be the only chance they’ll have.

      • rawgator06 - May 10, 2014 at 11:16 PM

        you do realize that the NBA board of governors decides who can have a controlling interest, right?
        Why the heck would they want to confirm a controversial figure when they could just choose someone who would not alienate players, fans, and sponsors?
        Or, you could be a probasketballtalk commenter and think that her freedom of speech is being infringed or some other derpy crap.

    • asimonetti88 - May 10, 2014 at 7:26 PM

      They could pull out the deposition that implicates her for imitating a public official and evicting tenants for the color of their skin.

    • antistratfordian - May 10, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      They don’t have to have an “official” reason. The reason can be whatever each owner wants it to be when they vote. Some might think that she’s simply not fit to be a controlling owner. It can be any number of things, really – but their meetings are private and they don’t have to justify their individual votes to anyone.

      • zackd2 - May 10, 2014 at 8:17 PM

        That may be true, and there won’t be any backlash because it’s Sterling name and they have a bad reputation.

        That being said, how long until Mark Cuban is ousted? He calls out refs, calls out the commish, has been fined a ton of times – is that not conduct unbecoming of an owner? If a man loses a billion dollar team because comments made in private to his girlfriend about race, then the bar is set pretty low for losing ownership.

  5. jerdogthompson - May 10, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Looking good trolls, keep your hopes up ultra high as to only have them utterly destroyed when the time comes. Here’s to trolling YO.


  6. rdrfan - May 10, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    Magic Johnson is a back stabbing blood sucker. No doubt

    • ranfan12 - May 10, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      business 101

  7. jerdogthompson - May 10, 2014 at 7:07 PM


    I think what you and most the other trolls forget to acknowledge is the simple fact that an owner of any team is a franchisee. I will give you a minute or two to google that and get familiarized with its meaning. Once ur done with your homework why don’t u come back and electrify us all with ur trollness.


    • 00maltliquor - May 11, 2014 at 2:31 AM


  8. worldbfree4me - May 10, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    Take the Money Shelly and bounce period! The NBA now longer wants a Sterling to be apart of their league, that includes you!! The Value of the team is at its highest point today, everyday that you fight, the value shrinks.

  9. thekingdave - May 10, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    @ “jerdogthompson”

    So questioning this precedent of racism being a one way street, validity of using private conversations in these decisions, and as always African-Americans (can we say black now or is that not politically correct?) being impervious to criticism is now the definition of “troll”? RIP open thoughtful debate. USA! USA!

  10. Dogsweat - May 10, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    Exterminate the Clipper name, it will always be tainted, sell to the Seattle Group.

  11. jerdogthompson - May 10, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    The king

    Clever name indeed. Look, regardless of everything and I do mean everything. One thing and one thing only will predict the outcome of this. DTS and/or his trust is a franchisee period. Do yourself a favor and prevent further humiliation by understanding/knowing what this terms means by definition. I’ve spoken.


  12. thekingdave - May 10, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    I’m not questioning that the Sterling family will lose the team, deservedly so. This just possibly sets a shaky precedent. No one’s made a Jeremy Lin racist remark in any locker room? What if someone gets secretly taped using a homophobic slur? 5 year ban?

  13. campcouch - May 10, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    Apparently the NBA doesn’t watch “The NBA on TNT”…I cringe everytime Shaq or Chuck make a white guy joke. Might be time to disenfranchise Turner Broadcasting as well.

  14. chunkala - May 10, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    The NBA is so screwed. If they keep this up, the Sterlings will own the league outright.

  15. allamer1 - May 10, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    The players won’t play for any Sterling? Yeah, right! They will play for anybody who pays them. And even pretending to be offended just hurts their credibility.

  16. mogogo1 - May 11, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    To be perfectly clear, the NBA really has no clue whether this will hold up or not. It’s never happened before so even if the bylaws read exactly the way NBA wants to interpret them there’s still the question of what the courts would say.

    Even if the Sterlings were willing to just let the team go you can guarantee they would sue over how the league wants to handle the sale. The NBA has zero incentive to get the most possible for the franchise and every bidder knows that so the Sterlings would have very strong argument that the sale price was going to be lower because of that. The league needs to outright buy the Clippers like they did with the Hornets. Then they could find a new owner without any further challenges.

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