*LeBron James said Sunday that he and his fellow NBA players believe nobody in Donald Sterling’s family should be able to own the Los Angeles Clippers if he’s gone, reports ESPNcom.
Sterling has been banned for life for making racist comments and commissioner Adam Silver has urged the other owners to force Sterling to sell the franchise. But Silver said no decisions had been made about the rest of Sterling’s family.
“As players, we want what’s right and we feel like no one in his family should be able to own the team,” James said after the Heat practiced for Monday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Brooklyn against the Nets. Miami leads the series 2-1.
Though she told ABC News’ Barbara Walters on Sunday that she plans to divorce her husband, Shelly Sterling seems to be of the same mind in saying she will do what she can to keep her 50 percent stake in the Clippers.
“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?”
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.”
The league contends that Donald Sterling is the sole controlling owner of the Clippers, the only one approved to have a controlling interest in the team (there are only 30 controlling owners, one per team), and that Shelly Sterling has no controlling power.
On Sunday, the league issued a statement on the matter.
“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,” the league said in its statement. “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.”
O’Donnell released a statement Sunday night in response to the NBA’s position.
“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,” O’Donnell said. “We live in a nation of laws. California law and the United States Constitution trump any such interpretation.”
James said he understands that there is unlikely to be a quick resolution to the matter.
“At the end of the day, this is going to be a long litigation when it comes to that,” James said. “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.”
James was one of the first and strongest voices to speak out after a recording of Donald Sterling’s remarks to V. Stiviano were posted on TMZ’s website last month, saying the comments were unacceptable and that there was no place in the league for a person with such views.
The league is trying to act quickly to remove him. Dick Parsons has been installed as the Clippers’ interim CEO, and the owners’ advisory/finance committee has held conference calls each of the past two weeks to discuss that process and timeline for a sale. A forced sale would require a three-fourths vote of owners.
Sterling, who bought the team in 1981 and is the NBA’s longest-tenured owner, could choose to fight those attempts by the league.