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Report: Donald Sterling hires attorney, refuses to pay fine, threatens to sue NBA

May 15, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT


File of Clippers owner Sterling sitting as he watches team play Knicks in NBA game in Los Angeles

We knew this was coming, it was just a matter of time.

Disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling isn’t about to give up the Clippers without a long legal battle, and he’s begun that process by retaining an attorney who’s written an initial letter to the NBA — proclaiming his client’s innocence, along with his defiance.

From Michael McCann of has learned that Donald Sterling has hired prominent antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher, who has written a letter to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan threatening to sue the NBA. The letter, sources tells, claims that Sterling has done nothing wrong and that “no punishment is warranted” for Sterling. Blecher also tells Buchanan that Sterling will not pay the $2.5 million fine, which is already past due. Blecher ends the letter by saying this controversy “will be adjudicated.” …

A letter of this type is considered a precursor to the filing of a lawsuit. …

“We reject your demand for payment,” the letter tells Buchanan, who on May 14 informed Sterling by letter that he must pay the $2.5 million fine. …

The fact the letter claims Sterling has done nothing wrong seems at odds with Sterling’s own words to Anderson Cooper. Sterling was unequivocal, “I made a terrible, terrible mistake.” His lawyer, however, appears to believe otherwise.

The two basic legal defenses outlined in the letter involve arguing that Sterling hasn’t violated any article of the NBA constitution (which is laughable), and that Sterling’s “due process rights” were violated by the NBA, even though the league is a private association and therefore is not required to provide due process rights.

The NBA, meanwhile, is moving as quickly as possible to terminate Sterling’s ownership, and will likely continue to do so until that task has been completed, regardless of any future legal ramifications.

From a league standpoint, there was no other option but to fine and ban Sterling for his recorded racist remarks. You had players considering a boycott initially when all of this went down, and the subject came up again recently when players union vice president Roger Mason Jr. said that LeBron James would consider taking similar action should Sterling still remain in an ownership role at the start of next season.

Mason backtracked from those comments a day later, but that doesn’t mean the sentiment from the players doesn’t exist. Because of that and a whole host of other reasons, the NBA will continue its march to formally remove Sterling from its ownership group. What this latest development tells us is that Sterling won’t leave without a fight, but that was to be completely expected.

  1. chicagosports2014 - May 15, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    SMH money than fuwked dis guy up.

  2. antistratfordian - May 15, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    Heh. Good luck – you’re gonna need it, hombre.

    • apkyletexas - May 15, 2014 at 11:48 PM

      The NBA should just disband the Clippers and let the entire team become immediate free agents at the end of the season. See what Sterling’s reaction is when there is no billion dollar sale to be made, because there’s no recognized NBA franchise left to sell.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - May 16, 2014 at 2:07 AM

        I’m no lawyer but that would seem to me to be a pretty easy way for the NBA to end up on the losing side of an anti-trust lawsuit, and having to pay Sterling triple the damages which means between $2.1 and 3 billion.

        The league can’t just shut the team down or void all of the contracts, it doesn’t work that way.

  3. Dogsweat - May 15, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    MLB’s new Commish.

  4. chunkala - May 15, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    Yeah, the media expected this, right.
    Every article from a few weeks back contained the words, “done deal.”
    Not so fast my friend.

    • kinggw - May 15, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      Sterling’s fight is futile. There isn’t a scenario where he keeps the team and this goes away. It might take another month, but it is a done deal.

      • asimonetti88 - May 16, 2014 at 12:11 AM

        it’s going to take a lot longer than a month… the courts do not move quickly.

    • zoomy123 - May 16, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      What are you talking about? Every article anybody’s ever written has said they expected Serling to sue. What is a “done deal” is that he’s losing the team. Period. He violated the NBA Constitution and he has no due process rights that the NBA is bound to respect. The NBA is a private ownership group, not a government and/or state agency. And anybody who doesn’t abide by the agreed upon rules of a private ownership group is adios.

      • stoptrippn - May 16, 2014 at 12:55 PM

        I sure hope so

  5. mackcarrington - May 15, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    And now it truly begins.

  6. bucrightoff - May 15, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    Bring it on. For as much of a richard as he is, he’s totally insane so he could say and do anything. The entertainment value here should be great.

  7. flyeredup - May 15, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Law and Order reruns get higher ratings than the NBA playoffs do.

  8. nfl4days - May 15, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Get ya popcorn ready! Have fun resigning guys and signing free agents.

  9. ncarolinarn7 - May 15, 2014 at 10:44 PM

    If you can’t express yourself in your own house even if you say hateful and horrible things we have lost our 4th 5th and 1st amendment protections in our once great country. I do NOT defend WHAT STERLING SAID but I defend his right to say it otherwise we live in a totalitarian state and Owell’s Amerikka is alive and well.

    • void96eater - May 15, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      Um, there is no one saying he cant express himself, even though his views are clearly deplorable. What he doesn’t understand is that the NBA is a business, and businesses can place restrictions on almost anything you do.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 15, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      So when the police come for Donald Sterling you can get on your soapbox and yammer about Free Speech.

      Because right now all we’re seeing is businessmen doing what they believe is best for their business, So what, You’re against allowing people the right to do whats best for their business?

      Again, why don’t you flag waving defenders of the Constitution actually take the time to read the damn thing?

    • nfl4days - May 15, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      THE 1ST AMENDMENT ONLY APPLIES TO THE GOVERNMENT!! You have NEVER been able to say whatever you want and not face consequences from the public or private sector. Unless sterling gets thrown in jail or censored by the government, his rights are perfectly intact.

      • scumpidude - May 15, 2014 at 11:35 PM

        Who’s downing voting this!?! Why don’t people get that Sterling is NOT going to jail!?! That the NBA is not the US government!?!?!

      • nfl4days - May 15, 2014 at 11:39 PM

        Because morons haven’t even read the constitution they leave to brag about so much. Then people wonder why other countries no so much more about america than americans

    • beastroid - May 15, 2014 at 11:01 PM

      The 1st amendment protects your right to say what you want, it doesn’t protect you from the consequences of saying whatever you want

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 15, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      And as usual, the people who talk about Free Speech only to get educated on what the term actually means has nothing to say afterwards.

      Not even a “thank you” or a “I did not know that”

      Of course there is no debating that this isn’t a Free Speech issue, but you think once in a while they would come back and reply with something.

      If your rights are so important to you, and you love America, why is it you have never read the document that you’re so quick to defend? Are you just ignorant and lazy?

    • asimonetti88 - May 16, 2014 at 12:15 AM

      It’s kind of sad that this has more thumbs up than thumbs down. Do that many people really not know what the First Amendment is? Not to mention the 4th and 5th? Unless you believe the NBA is part of the US Government?

    • bougin89 - May 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      He can take out an ad in a paper and print all the ignorant things he said. Will he go to jail? No. Will the other NBA owners vote to remove him because they will lose money if they don’t? Yes.

  10. eugenesaxe1 - May 15, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    “When Rich People Lose Their Friggin’ Minds”

    This summer on FOX.

  11. mrlaloosh - May 15, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    This will be immensely entertaining. Adam Silver has been in the NBA offices for decades and knew exactly what Sterling was all about and did NOTHING!
    I certainly hope they televise this trial. I’m sure David Stern will be a star witness for both the defense and prosecution. Dirty laundry will be AIRED! Can’t wait.

  12. cubb1 - May 15, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Did anyone really think Sterling was going to cough up $2.5 million?

    • kinggw - May 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      Oh, he will.

      • reesesteel23 - May 15, 2014 at 11:32 PM

        Lol amazing the support sterling has haha….so typical….they’re coming out in packs now

  13. jerdogthompson - May 15, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    To all the tool trolls that want to equate the constitution of the USA and compare it to that of the NBA need to go back to school and edumicate themselves.

    Never have a I seen such childish nonsense banter in my life. Perhaps that’s why these trolls keep changing their screen names to hide their shame. But as I keep saying keep the comedy coming as it’s truly priceless.

    Clippers will prevail as will the league, just keep your uber troll trivia in high gear until then. I’m going to speak with the moderator and demand that no one gets more than one user name as keeping up with the ever changing stupidity is a waste of time.

    Don’t hide your shame trolls, keep one name and be pegged with this stupidity when it’s all said and done. What am I saying? That would require being an adult of which none of you trolls are so…..,,,,


    • therealhtj - May 16, 2014 at 1:41 AM

      Enjoy your summer. You and every other loser Clipper fan, player, coach, and employee knew exactly what kind of owner they were making big money for.

  14. tampajoey - May 15, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    So let’s put microphones in all NBA players homes and record their private conversations so we can hear what they all really think of white, Latino and Asian people. I bet we’d hear a lot worse than anything Sterling said.

    • kinggw - May 15, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      We aren’t talking about NBA players, this about Sterling. Stop deflecting.

      • tampajoey - May 15, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Why are there two different sets of standards?

      • mackcarrington - May 16, 2014 at 1:05 AM

        Because Sterling is in a position of power and has the ability to affect someones life with the decisions he makes.
        Think of it this way: Does it make a bigger difference if the slave is racist or if the slave master is racist?
        If the slave is racist, what is he going to do about anything? If the slave master is racist…. well…?

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 15, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      I bet you would hear a ton of nasty stuff
      Stuff they have the right to say and think, just like Sterling has the right to say what he said

      But what’s your point?
      You actually think they are forcing him to sell based on some moral stance?
      They are forcing him out because they league won’t profit as much if they keep him. His words hurt the leagues profitability. Words he has every right to say, but when those words go viral and sponsors start dropping like flies the other owners have every right to step in.

      So if a players words ever cause the league as a whole to lose money, then you might see the league suspend a player, but don’t be so naive to think this isn’t about money

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 15, 2014 at 11:32 PM

      The league isn’t taking a moral stance, they are reacting to the moral stance the Union, sponsors, fans, media are taking. Their bean counters told them “Keep Sterling and it will cost all of us a lot of money”

      And that sealed Donald’s fate

    • reesesteel23 - May 15, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      Lol 2 diff sets of standards? Sterling couldn’t keep his B in check….has nothing to do with the players

    • heat256 - May 16, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      Listen, moron, STERLING KNEW HE WAS BEING RECORDED!!!! When others consent to being recorded and get caught saying deplorable things, then they should be punished according to the league’s bylaws. End of story. Stop deflecting and making it into some imaginary b***chit scenario. This has only to do with an owner on record saying things that are hurting the league. The rules are set up to get him out, and he is fighting the inevitable. How a person can want to stay around when no one wants him to is beyond me.

      • tampajoey - May 16, 2014 at 8:55 PM

        Right. According to you only white people can be racist. You’re always a victim aren’t you buddy? Sack up loser.

  15. nfl4days - May 15, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    Go to work and insult your boss and see if your “1st amendment rights” save your job. The private sector is not the government. There is no law saying that you can say whatever you want and not suffer consequences from the public or private sector.

  16. rcali - May 16, 2014 at 12:37 AM

    Ha ha, so many people, including the NBA, thought this was a open and shut case. Not so fast! He’s a bad dude, but he’s a bad dude with money….and probably some dirt on a few people in the NBA.

    • florida727 - May 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      Couldn’t agree more. Sterling is an idiot, plain and simple. But as far as having done something LEGALLY wrong, maybe not. Remember, ‘free speech’ doesn’t mean ‘right speech’. Any moron can say anything, as Sterling has obviously proven. I’ve always wondered how the clause in an owner’s agreement or a player’s contract regarding actions “detrimental to the league” could ever be quantified/qualified and LEGALLY upheld. I guess we’re about to find out.

      • andyreidisfat - May 16, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        Ahh but Free speach also doesn’t mean speech doesn’t come with some accountability. Free speech just means the Gov. can’t stop you. It doesn’t mean if your rich old NBA a-hole owner you can’t be kicked out of your club.

      • bougin89 - May 16, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        It is quantified/qualified by the owners voting on it.

  17. wfon1 - May 16, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    Can you contract (is that the term?) the nba and remove the Clippers? Thus keeping Sterling as owner as the team but removing the team from the NBA?

    • wfon1 - May 16, 2014 at 12:42 AM

      Like what MLB was going to do a few years ago. ( or decade ago i think)

  18. coffeeblack95616 - May 16, 2014 at 1:19 AM

    Free speech is freedom from government oppression, not reprisals from your business. It’s a mistake to confuse the two. Sterling can’t be arrested for what he said, but a business can opt to pressure an employee (of sorts) to quit. It’s a franchise decision, not a government issue.
    Seems like a lot of people here failed their Constitution test in high school.

    • 1historian - May 16, 2014 at 8:10 AM

      What Constitution test in what High School?

      NOT trying to be sarcastic.

      • spursareold - May 16, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        And failing…

  19. jerdogthompson - May 16, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    We’ll spoken and articulated coffee, I’m fairly convinced were up against some mid double digit IQ’s when it comes to this topic. Oh well, as they say no brain no headache.


  20. ncarolinarn7 - May 16, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    So you’re telling me genius that in my own home with my own mistress I can’t say whatever I please and not have the castle doctrine, wire tap laws, or some protection against all the social vigilantes protect me from the likes of the media, and self-righteous hypocrites trying to destroy a business I may have built. My speech isn’t protected??? Haha. Sure. I hate what Sterling sad out loud but there is a bigger principle at play here seems like most are losing sight of in my humble opinion.

    • unxpexted1 - May 16, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      People forget that he knew he was being recorded.

  21. kavika6 - May 16, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    I don’t like the guy or his views but which article of the NBA constitution did he break? This was a private conversation in his home, not a press conference or a public statement. I’ll bet there aren’t many black NBA players that haven’t made fun of white people in a private conversation. Hypocrites.

  22. McFaddensPulledHammy - May 16, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    He just wants to get to court so he can use discovery to shed light on Owner X and what he said, Owner Y and what he said to compare what Sterling said.

  23. anotheryx - May 16, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    But he already said he is sorry! WTF more you expect a man to do!

  24. jimsjam33 - May 16, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Sterling and Roeser ripped Keith Closs off for three million dollars . They said he was not in physical condition to play in 2000 . They didn’t want him because of the fight tape and Keith was a big 7’3″ black guy who couldn’t stand up to the racist and his money in court .
    All Keith did was play the next 6 years in China and the ” D ” league never missing a game because of injuries .

  25. stoptrippn - May 16, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    I don’t think we will ever get along as a society. Other countries just laugh…and say we’re complete idiots. Sterling shouldn’t lose his team….but the players should be able to get out of their contracts..and move on. Hurt that pig in his pocket.

  26. nfl4days - May 15, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    And the NBA can punish him for it. End of story. How reading farther than “we the people” next time you see the constitution.

  27. asimonetti88 - May 16, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    No one has said he can’t.

  28. asimonetti88 - May 16, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    I see that a certain racist has made his way back to PBT.

  29. mackcarrington - May 16, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Are you a refugee from the hockey website?

  30. kavika6 - May 16, 2014 at 5:25 AM

    How the heck do you equate Romney with Sterling? I think I see who the real racist is here.

  31. bucrightoff - May 16, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Are you suggesting hockey fans are racist? Because that’s a bunch of crap right there. You can say what happened to PK Subban, but that’s Boston fans, not hockey fans.

  32. mackcarrington - May 16, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    I didn’t suggest anything. You are the one who is running away with an assumption. But since you mentioned it, the Subban incident WAS hockey related. And why are you picking on Boston fans? Are you suggesting Boston fans are racist? And why so sensitive about it?

  33. packergator - May 16, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Yeah, because that was funny on the dozen other comment pages where you said that.

  34. packergator - May 16, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Don’t bother with him – you know he’s getting off on every reply.

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