NBA says Shelly Sterling cannot remain Clippers owner if Donald Sterling is ousted

Responding to Shelly Sterling’s intent to hold on to her share of the Clippers, the NBA released a statement on Sunday evening saying she cannot extricate her ownership of the franchise from her husband Donald Sterling’s.

“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,” league spokesperson Mike Bass said. “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.”

For the first time, the NBA is officially tying Shelly Sterling’s claim on the Los Angeles franchise to that of Donald Sterling — whom it banned for life after audio of his racist comments were released by TMZ nearly two weeks ago. The NBA Board of Governors can remove Donald Sterling with a three-fourths majority vote.

Although Shelly and Donald Sterling co-own equal shares of the team in a family trust, Donald is the only one who was approved by the Board of Governors as a controlling member.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver had said that the lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine he issued to Donald Sterling applied only to him, not his family. Neither he nor the league had publicly commented on how the sale of Donald’s share of the team would affect Shelly’s.

Over the past week, Shelly Sterling has said through various statements released by her representatives — as well as an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters — that she intends to fight for her stake in the team regardless of what happens to her husband.

She also told Walters that she thinks her husband may be suffering from the early onset of dementia, and should apologize for his comments. She has also tried to distance herself from him, saying that they have been estranged and that she will “eventually” file a divorce — which could entitle her to half of his assets under California’s community property law.

Her attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, refuted the NBA’s most recent argument in a statement released Sunday night.

“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.”

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  • Eric F Woods

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  • Cynical Observer

    I guess the idiots running the NBA were not paying attention during the Dodgers imbroglio. To protect Mrs. Sterling’s interests, all her lawyer has to do is study what the lawyers did in the Dodgers cases. And for those who don’t follow the sport of litigation, Pierce O’Donnell is as good at what he does as Magic Johnson was in his day.

    • John Posey

      If i remember correctly the husband and wife were trying to hold onto the Dodgers. MLB took over the franchise and sold it and thr proceeds were split…The NBA is moving at a much faster pace…In this case is wife didn’t sign any of the paperwork necessary to be a controlling owner…Once his interests are terminated so are hers..All they will be doing is making their lawyers rich….They will not prevail…I wouldn’t be so quick to call the NBA “idiots”….

  • Wano Nymous

    The only real winners in this case will be the lawyers who rack up thousands of hours.

  • Tone

    I cant believe this is even still being talked about. He is an owner. How much did it offend the players? NOT THAT MUCH. They put up a 3 minute protest by turning they’re jerseys inside out. They didn’t refuse to play for him or even sit out one single game! Its just words, get over it already.