NEW YORK –Three weeks after issuing owner Donald Sterling with a life-time ban for making racially disparaging comments, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver urged the embattled Clippers owner to sell the team on his own accord.
“He knows what the league’s point of view is,” Silver said Tuesday at a press conference at Best Buy Theatre in Times Square, which is hosting the NBA draft lottery. “I’m sure if he wanted to sell the team on some reasonable time table, I’d rather he sell it than go through this process.”
The NBA will hold a hearing on June 3 where the Board of Governors will hold a vote that requires a 3/4 majority to force Sterling to sell the team.
“I envision once we move through that process, we will then put the team in order, hire an investment banker and conduct an orderly process,” Silver said. “We have an obligation to the Sterlings to ensure we sell it for the highest possible price. There’s no doubt it’s a highly valuable asset.”
Sterling’s lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, asked in writing that he be given a three-month delay for the hearing, according to a league source familiar with the situation. A league source also added that if Sterling does not respond to the NBA’s charges by May 27, the NBA will have another grounds for termination.
Blecher has not offered any comment since the NBA announced the hearing on Monday.
“In terms of additional time, the answer has been no,” Silver said. “The proceedings and the process is set out in our constitution. That’s something they signed on for when they became owners in the league.
The league has cited both various by-laws in its constitution and several morality and ethics contracts that Sterling violated. The NBA argued Sterling’s CNN interview on May 12 in which he made more racially disparaging remarks are included as a rationale to remove his ownership. The NBA also said Sterling has destroyed unspecified evidence.
Presuming the NBA owners vote to remove Sterling as the Clippers owner, such an outcome would strip away Shelly Sterling’s ownership stake. Donald and Shelly equally share a trust fund that was used to purchase the Clippers in 1981.
“All ownership interests are terminated as part of that proceeding,” Silver said. As I understand the position of Mrs. Sterling’s lawyers, they accept you can terminate Mr. Sterling, but somehow Mrs. Sterling comes with the team. Even if that is not what is said in our constitution, it doesn’t make sense.”
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