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NBA presents formal charges, takes first step to remove Donald Sterling as Clippers owner

May 19, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT

File of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center File of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center

As Commissioner Adam Silver promised, the NBA is moving swiftly to remove Donald Sterling (and his wife) as owners of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The league took the first formal steps under its constitution Monday and initiated a charge against Sterling, the league announced on Monday. Sterling has until May 27 to respond.

This is all leading up to a formal hearing before the Board of Governors (the other owners) on June 3 (two days before the start of the NBA Finals). After that the board will vote and if 3/4 of them so vote Sterling would be removed as owner and the team sold by the league (already all 29 other owners have issued statements in support of Silver and his actions). Of course, the Sterlings are both expected to try and fight this in the courts (he has already refused to play the NBA’s $2.5 million fine).

Here is what the league said about the charges:

The charge asserts that Mr. Sterling engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams. 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.

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. Mr. Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.

Sterling may be able to drag out the process in the courts but he is not expected to have much legal ground to stop the NBA.

Sterling signed documents and agreed to abide by the NBA’s constitution in running his franchise. He agreed to abide by the league’s rulings. This is not a case where the NBA has stepped in taking away a business he started and built (like his Real Estate empire), this is a franchise. It is more akin to Subway restaurants or McDonald’s or Chevron being allowed to pull its franchise from a franchisee who violated company policy (although there are certainly differences with that analogy).

Sterling can try to argue the NBA isn’t abiding by its own constitution, or that he is being discriminated against, but those are nearly impossible cases for him to make. The writing is on the wall for him and his wife (under NBA rules if his ownership is terminated all other ownerships are terminated as well).

Frankly, I think everyone around the NBA just wants all things Sterling to go away as quickly as possible. But it’s never quite that clean and easy.

  1. romestar82 - May 19, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Leave Mr.Sterling ALONE!!!

    • RavenzGunnerz - May 19, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      Sure, he can get out of the NBA and have his own peace…

    • hwatt - May 19, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      first of all, introduce yourself. What strip club did he pick you up from? What color is the Bentley he gave you?

  2. RavenzGunnerz - May 19, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    No win situation for Sterling really. The Clippers are at the highest valuation they will ever be for the next 5yrs. Cash out. Prolonging this will only serve to agitate the NBA, which will add more frustration to NBA fans.

    But he is done. He can’t own an NBA team now. No players, except maybe a few europeans, will want to play for him. I bet the Clippers will go for at least $800mil, that’s a 790mil profit, take that and run 4 your life. At 80yrs old, there is really nothing to fight for.

    • tdl8 - May 19, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      Sterling will fight just because he is a stubborn old man! It’s not about the money to him. He is already a billionaire even without the Clippers valuation.

    • asimonetti88 - May 19, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      he has to pay taxes on the profit he makes on the team.

    • duhwighthoward - May 19, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      “No players… will want to play for him.” It never bothered players before.

      • therealhtj - May 19, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        Or Coaches. Or GMs. Until he fires them and they have to sue to get their money. Why do you think just about anyone half-decent ran from the Clips the first chance they got?

      • onenineninee - May 19, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        The players knew or heard about the questionable behavior of Sterling, none of them knew he was an outright racist with those views until the tapes were released. There’s a difference here. People will tolerate someone with questionable views, but no one will tolerate people with outright plantation owner views anymore.

      • duhwighthoward - May 20, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        @onenininee, epic fail!

        The tapes weren’t that bad. Not compared to the litigation he had to settle with the government which was highly publicized because it was the largest such settlement of its kind in history.

        I think you are either ten years old, uneducated, a complete hooligan, or in an equal amount of denial as the players.

    • xxloua - May 20, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      screw them get ur money and get out before they all want contract renewals. they are over paid already.

  3. SBoy - May 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    I think a lot of the media is building up expectations about this being a slam dunk… here is article with actual legal analysis that spells how what arguments won’t work for Sterling in court and what arguments might:

  4. worldbfree4me - May 19, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    The Don was worth $700 Million in 82. Money is not an issue for the Don. The Clippers will no doubt sell for North of a Billion dollars when all said and done. The issue is the Don has never been told what to do. He tells his servants or employees what to do and they have done exactly that, year after year. Now is different though. He’s being told to give up the Clippers and the sting that he has, sometimes called “Pride” is him. But Karma is serving the Don and his family notice, “What comes around, goes around eventually.”

    • onenineninee - May 19, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      The team is losing value every minute this dummy remains. The sponsors who bailed came back because the NBA took action. Now that he’s willing to drag the team through the mud, he’s sponsors will leave again. If the main players decide they wont be returning, that valuation of the team will go down drastically. Imagine if Apple lost its Iphone share market. They would lose 50% of value overnight. Same with the Clips if Paul decides not to return.

  5. echech88 - May 19, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Guy looks like he only has a few years left before he croaks. Why waste it in court?

    Just take your billion and go on that crazy escort binge you’ve been dreaming about, Donald.

  6. allamer1 - May 19, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Can team owners be forced to give up their ownership because of un-PC comments made in private? Answer that. Anything else is BS.

    • RavenzGunnerz - May 19, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      If comments are detriment to the NBA yeah. You have to remind yourself, the Clippers ARE a franchise. Not a family business.

    • mackcarrington - May 19, 2014 at 6:16 PM

      Those comments are now public. It doesn’t matter how they became public at this point.

    • 1historian - May 20, 2014 at 5:50 AM

      This is between money and freedom of speech, and you know who’s going to win.

      • tracerbob - May 20, 2014 at 8:30 AM

        Sure it is. When you make dumb racist statements using your freedom of speech and get caught. You get paid! How much will this clown make in the sale of this team? Maybe he is smarter then all of us. He hates the NBA, doesn’t like the boys telling him what to do. What better way to unload the franchise before you croak. And at a massive profit.

    • tracerbob - May 20, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      Are you that stupid? Did you read the article? He is a franchise owner in a league. It’s not his team.

  7. mackcarrington - May 19, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    The irony of Sterling suing for being discriminated against.

  8. shanelsweet - May 19, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Well, it’s good to read that some folks are finally starting to come around to the idea that he’s a done deal. He can squawk a little, but he’s done as an owner. The league and team will just move on, and any fighting will be about the money he’s owed. He’s made the last decision he’ll ever make that anybody with the Clippers will ever follow.

  9. canadatude - May 19, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    Franchises make their own “law”, so Sterling has no chance here. I owned a Pet Valu franchise in the 1990s and made it one of the top 10 stores in Canada. They changed the franchise agreement after the fact, grabbed the franchise and handed it over to the son the chain VP. Who said life is fair?

  10. Dogsweat - May 19, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Sale the Clippers to the Kansas City group, because they will always be tainted, no matter who owns them.

  11. Dogsweat - May 19, 2014 at 10:16 PM


  12. ningenito78 - May 20, 2014 at 2:57 AM

    Did anybody else read L.A. NAACP ex-chapter president’s quotes to the NY Post?

    “If this had happened a month later, Southwest would have had an endowment, and I would have been a hero … Talk about bad luck. It couldn’t have been any worse.”

    He definitely gets it. Woof. Read the interview. This behavior was enabled by the same ‘organization’ that a few have tried to excuse in all this. The whole thing is a disgrace. From both sides of the table.

  13. mythaimyke - May 20, 2014 at 7:35 AM

    Go Sterling Go! I am behind you 100%!! Show Irvin, I will never go to another Dodgers game as long as I live!!!!
    They are losers anyway!

  14. qball59 - May 20, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    This “removal process” makes for great theater, but when the league’s Kangaroo Court is done with their little dog and pony show, and they have to defend their blatant violation of their own Constitution and By-Laws in a real court of Law, the NBA is going to get crushed…

    And no, I’m not defending “racism” or Donald Sterling either.

  15. archieskip - May 20, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    It seams awfully funny to me, that none of the players on this team or the coaches , especially Doc Rivers didn’t know about Sterlings supposedly racial feelings ?????? He was charged for similar episodes in the past, and paid some hefty fines. He was also named man of the year by the NAACP and given an award, after he made quite a hefty donation to them !!!!!! So here we are all these players and coaches just looking at the money end of it !!!!!! They are all BIG HYPOCRITES !!!!!!

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