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NBA: If owners’ vote removes Donald Sterling’s ownership of Clippers, Shelly Sterling also loses hers

May 11, 2014, 11:53 PM EDT

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UPDATE  11:53 pm: As you would expect (and as hinted at below), Shelly Sterling’s attorneys do not see things the same way as the NBA. Shocking.

Shelly’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, released this statement in response, via the Los Angeles Times.

“We do not agree with the league’s self-serving interpretation of its constitution, its application to Shelly Sterling or its validity under these unique circumstances,” he said. “We live in a nation of laws. California law and the United States Constitution trump any such interpretation.”

The NBA would say “you joined a select club and signed into the laws of our business when you did, and those laws say we can vote you out of the club if you’re bad for business.

In America we adjudicate our differences through an adversarial system — and the Sterlings love to be adversarial. They have their ego wrapped up in owning this team, they have financial incentive to drag this out, and they have the money to pay an army of lawyers to fight this. So they will. (They say they are doing it separately, you can believe that if you want, I think this is more coordinated than that.)

I’m not an attorney so I’m not going to try to interpret what the NBA constitution says here — get three lawyers to read the document and you’ll get six opinions on it. The bottom line is it’s not that cut and dried and the courts are going to have to sort this out. Your tax dollars at work!

—Kurt Helin

9:55 pm: Shelly Sterling wants to own the Clippers, and she’ll fight to keep the team if the NBA owners vote to remove Donald Sterling as an owner.

The NBA isn’t having that.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass in a statement:

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.

I am not privy to the agreement the Sterlings – or just Donald – signed, but if it’s as clearly worded as the NBA indicates, this sounds like case closed.

But the league has incentive to strong-play its hand. The players want Shelly out, and the other owners probably do too.

The agreement could be more ambiguous than the league is saying. Remember, this is just one interpretation of the agreement. Shelly Sterling’s lawyer – depending on the word – could have another.

  1. void96eater - May 11, 2014 at 10:38 PM


  2. redbaronx - May 11, 2014 at 10:48 PM

    Shelly Sterling is showing her true colors. She was all in agreement with NBA moves until she stated her interest in owning the team. I don’t know what law she thinks helps her cause, but the double whammy is the owners agreement. If she was in marital court and her husband was dispossessed of real estate by a court, that would not create an opening for the spouse to contest.

    • thewizkid89 - May 12, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      Actually, under normal circumstances it would. You cannot give away what you do not own.

      • redbaronx - May 16, 2014 at 7:54 PM

        ….and Shelly doesn’t own the Clippers, so she has no case.

  3. zackd2 - May 11, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    If that’s the true interpretation then that’s fine, no issue.

  4. phillyguyindc - May 11, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    Oops, Disregard the question about multiple owners.

  5. rcali - May 11, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    This is getting better everyday and the law suits haven’t even started yet! By the way, this is just one team. Wait till stuff starts coming out about other owners! Something they texted, something they emailed, organizations they have given money to, causes they’ve supported etc…… Then we have the NBA players who probably will have to be suspended at least a year is my guess for any ONE derrogatory remark they make! Be careful what you wish for folks.

    • eugenesaxe1 - May 12, 2014 at 3:25 AM

      I doubt many owners deal with Sterling too much, what’s he going to have on them?

    • nard100 - May 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      Rcali, you are probably right and now the race will be on to bring out all the dirt.

  6. droopy925 - May 12, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    I guess I missed the part in the constitution that says your comments must be pc and now they are going to force him to sell his team how come Charles Barkley did nt lose his job when he spent days saying everyone in the bay area is a terrible person just because we live in the bay area or how about Jason Whitlock for using every derogatory stereo type when talking about Jeremy Lon

    • redbaronx - May 16, 2014 at 8:02 PM

      @droopy925 – Really? You’re comparing racism with a comment Barkley made about not wanting to live in the Bay Area?

      In case you haven’t noticed, the talk about the NBA constitution was about 3/4 vote of the owners to remove a fellow owner that is devaluing the NBA. This isn’t about whether Sterling can be PC or not. This is about a pattern of behavior that is detrimental to the image of the NBA, and if you’re an NBA fan, you’d be on board with that. Sterling may think we’re all stupid enough to believe the “one mistake” line, but that’s nothing compared to the pattern of housing practices and general buffoonery he’s exhibited over the course of the last several decades.

  7. 1harrypairatesties - May 12, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    Piss and Poop on both of them.

  8. aug99 - May 12, 2014 at 12:45 AM


  9. snipedanglecelly13 - May 12, 2014 at 3:12 AM

    Have a feeling that the sterlings are gonna win this case

  10. abchome - May 12, 2014 at 4:28 AM

    Can these things be sweept under the carpet until the off season? I don’t know how much the Clippers and their opponents are distracted, but I’m much distracted as a fan.

  11. canadatude - May 12, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Do you know how this all came out? The original comment was part of an hours conversation of which 15 seconds was culled. It was E-mailed to a friend of the girlfriend, who then sold it to the media for six figures. Gold digger?

  12. ectogamit - May 12, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    So transfer full ownership to his wife, she did nothing.

    • Kurt Helin - May 14, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      Not true at all. Research her.

  13. ectogamit - May 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Magic Johnson admitted to being a full on racist “hating whites” in the past, so we need all his accomplishments stripped from him and he needs to be removed from the NBA Hall of Fame.
    We need to be impartial here, don’t we?
    But wait ,we all forgive Magic because he changed his ways, would you do the same for Sterling? If you say no, understand that you yourself is a racist.
    Were we not taught to forgive?
    Colossians 3:13
    Matthew 18:21-22
    Luke 6:37
    Matthew 6:14-16
    Mark 11:25
    All you people who can not forgive, God will judge you without forgiveness also!

    • Kurt Helin - May 14, 2014 at 7:24 PM

      For the record, that was Jordan, not Magic.

      • AVaffair - Jul 18, 2014 at 6:04 AM

        Thank You for the correction…that did not sound right coming from Magic…but it also sounds TERRIBLE coming from Jordan. DAMN!!!

  14. jeffhalvorson - May 12, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    It is absolutely disgusting how sexist the NBA is, Because her husband made a racial comment, the NBA is saying Shelly Sterling must also sell her half of the LA clippers Team. If the other half was owned by a man they would not make him sell, but because of something her estranged husband said she must sell hers. If everyone is upset over a racial comment of one man, they should be bloody furious over a sexist policy of an entire league.

    • Kurt Helin - May 13, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      Before you act as if she is innocent in all this, you need to do your research on Shelly Sterling.

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