Donald Sterling’s statement explaining why he is fighting the NBA

Clippers owner Donald Sterling released a statement through attorney Bobby Samini on Tuesday explaining why he is continuing to fight the sale of his team and pursuing his $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA.

The statement:

WHY I AM FIGHTING THE NBA? THE NBA WANTS TO TAKE AWAY OUR PRIVACY RIGHTS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH

I was brought up in America and educated to believe that every citizen has a right to privacy and right to freedom of speech. As a lawyer and citizen, I am shocked (but not surprised) that the NBA wants to take away those fundamental rights.

I feel that every American has to protect those rights and that the NBA should not be allowed to take away those rights. I have apologized for my mistakes. My apology is sincere. I want every American to know that I will not give up fighting for those rights.

I also feel that the leadership of the NBA is incompetent, inexperienced and angry. It is clear that they took this opportunity to settle the personal grievances they have harbored against me for years. Continue reading

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Jamal Crawford contributed quite a bit to Clippers, and he’ll be back for more

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Jamal Crawford, Andre Iguodala

Photo by Associated Press

Any time you have a guy coming off the bench who averages more points than three of your starters, that’s a heck of a good thing.

Jamal Crawford was that man for the Clippers this past season. After averaging 16.5 points in 2012-13 in his first season with the club, he came back with an 18.6 scoring average in this just-concluded 2013-14 campaign. Crawford also averaged 3.2 assists, demonstrating he could run the team when Chris Paul was hurt or just not on the floor. Again, a very nice thing to have from a player known mostly as a deadly shooter when he’s hot.

While it’s true that Crawford has never shot for a real high average – he has a career shooting percentage of 41.1 percent – he has the knack for making several 3-pointers in succession from tough angles with players in his face. It’s just the kind of thing that can turn a game around in a hurry.

For example, Blake Griffin told this newspaper toward the end of the season that Crawford is the player teams have to look out for most when he’s hot. Indeed, he is a game-changer.
Crawford shot 41.6 percent (421 of 1,011) overall in 2013-14, 36.1 percent (161 of 446) from 3-point range. For his efforts, he was chosen Sixth Man of the Year for the second time in his career. Oh, and by the way, Crawford also shot 86.6 percent from the free-throw line this past season and has an 85.5-percent percentage over his 14-year career.

Crawford, who battled a calf strain in the latter part of the season, also brings a very strong character to the clubhouse, something of which a team can never have enough.

He’s not perfect, of course. Like all shooters, he gets in slumps and has games where he contributes less than usual. If there is a criticism, it’s that. But you don’t average 18.6 points off the bench by having many poor outings.

Crawford, 34, even seemed to improve his defense, at the behest of coach Doc Rivers.

The best thing of all, Crawford is signed with the Clippers through the 2015-16 season. He is slated to make $5,450,000 in 2014-15.

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J.J. Redick played only half a season, but his presence was felt in positive ways

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JJ Redick Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

J.J. Redick just completed his first season with the Clippers. Or should we say half-season as he played in only 35 regular-season games because of a bulging disc in his back.

However, if there was one thing Redick showed was the ability to move extremely well without the ball, then hitting big-time jump-shots with a quick catch and release once he received it. He is the perfect complement to a team with superstars like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and high-scoring sixth-man Jamal Crawford.
Redick, 29, shot a career-best 45.5 percent (181 of 398) from the field. Considering that nearly half of his shot attempts were from 3-point range, that is not too shabby at all; he shot a very solid 39.5 percent (73 of 185) from beyond the arc.

Once Redick came back April 3 after missing two months, the burning question to him was, “Will you end up having off-season surgery?” Redick didn’t know if that would
be the case. But it must be said that he was never pain-free once he came back, all the way through the Western Conference semifinals. He’s that courageous player all
coaches want, and Doc Rivers never made any bones about how much he liked Redick and his mettle.

If Redick is ready to go when spring training begins in about four months, there seemingly is no reason why he shouldn’t be right back in that starting lineup.

Redick is signed through the 2016-17 season. He is slated to make $6,792,500 in 2014-15.

 

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Chris Paul selected first-team All-NBA, Blake Griffin is on the second team

Point guard Chris Paul was selected first-team All-NBA and power forward Blake Griffin made the second team, the NBA announced Wednesday. It was the fourth first-team selection of Paul’s career.

Joining Paul on the first team are forward Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, forward LeBron James of the Miami Heat, center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets.

Durant was the only player to be selected to the first team on all 125 ballots; James was first-team on 124.

Joining Griffin on the second team are guards Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, forward Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves and center Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets.

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Hard-nosed Matt Barnes took positive steps in controlling his temper

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Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes left Clippers forward Blake Griffsecond from left tangle with OklahomCity Thunder forward Serge Ibaksecond

Photo by Associated Press

Matt Barnes just completed his 11th season in the NBA, and he put up some of his better numbers. He averaged 9.9 points – his career-best is 10.3 – while pulling down 4.6 rebounds and doling out 2.0 assists. He also shot 43.8 percent from the field, 34.3 percent (97 of 283) from 3-point range.
One of the things about Barnes, he is one tough hombre. He doesn’t shy away from contact, he is not afraid to take a crucial shot with the game in the balance. If he is
having a good game, the energy with which he plays seems to pump up his teammates.

Barnes also took some positive strides when it comes to technical fouls and such. In 2012-13, he had 10 technical fouls, four flagrant and two ejections during the regular season. In this just-concluded 2013-14 campaign under first-year coach Doc Rivers, Barnes had just four technical fouls, three flagrant, two ejections.

This was an issue that both Rivers and Barnes discussed with reporters many times during the season. Rivers said he tried to impress upon Barnes that playing hard and committing needless technical and flagrant fouls are not the same thing. One can play very hard without creating unnecessary hardship for his team, the thinking was.

Barnes also had some very bright moments on defense, making him an important part of the Clippers’ lineup.

That doesn’t mean Barnes should rest on his laurels. After all, there were some games where he contributed very little. Invisibility is the type of thing that every player wants to avoid.

Barnes should be in the fold again next season as he is signed for 2014-15 for $3,396,250, with a club option for 2015-16 for $3,542,500.

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Donald Sterling’s attorney responds to latest discrimination lawsuit

Monday saw yet another discrimination lawsuit filed against Donald Sterling, one that alleges racist and sexist taunts on the part of the Clippers owner.

Represented by Gloria Allred, a woman named Maiko Maya King alleges that after she agreed to work as Sterling’s personal assistant in 2013, “contrary to his agreement to pay her $10,000 a month, Sterling dangled money only if she would have sex with him.”

Bobby Samini, an attorney for Sterling, responded to the allegations Tuesday morning.

“The claim by Ms. King is baseless and ridiculous,” Samini wrote in an email. “She was never employed by Donald Sterling. Her claim was obviously (prompted) by opportunistic motives.”

In 2009, Sterling settled a housing discrimination lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice for $2.725 million.

The 80-year-old is likely on his way out as an NBA franchise owner, though he filed a lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages against the league on Friday. The NBA still needs to vote approve to approve Steve Ballmer as the Clippers’ new owner after the former Microsoft CEO agreed to buy the team for $2 billion last week.

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Shelly Sterling will prevail in Clippers sale, friend predicts

AR-140519500Clippers owner Shelly Sterling and Steve Ballmer had an instant connection, says Sterling’s close friend, Kathrine Baumann.

Baumann had lunch Sunday at a Malibu deli with Sterling, where the pair talked about the pending $2 billion Clippers sale to the former Microsoft executive.

“Shelly just lit up when she talked about him,” Baumann recalled. “She said, “I absolutely adore him.’”

Asked if she thinks that Donald Sterling’s lawsuit will jeopardize the sale, Baumann said: “My money is always on Shelly.”

Ballmer offered the winning bid last Thursday for the Clippers, ending a fast-tracked process to sell the franchise owned by Sterling and her husband Donald since 1981. The NBA gave tentative approval to the deal, while Shelly Sterling agreed not to sue the NBA. She also indemnified the league against lawsuits from others, including Donald Sterling.

However, on Friday, Donald Sterling sued the NBA, seeking to block a forced sale of the team, and throwing into question the Ballmer deal.

Donald Sterling also successfully fought off a stiff fine from the NBA back in the mid 1980s, when the league slapped him with a $25 million penalty for moving the team from San Diego to Los Angeles. The Sterlings paid $6 million in the end.

If Donald Sterling continues his legal battle against the NBA, it’s likely to be a fight of “Sterling versus Sterling,” said a source familiar with the negotiations.

Ballmer has said little since the pending sale was announced. Through a representative, he declined a request for an interview on Monday.

The source said Ballmer offered a “wow factor” when negotiating with Shelly Sterling, ultimately beating out at least two other bidders.

“He put himself in a strong commanding position,” the source said. “He had a plan (for the team).”

The proposed sale comes after the NBA fined Donald Sterling $2.5 million, banned him for life from the league, and initiated a forced sale after a recording surfaced of the 80-year-old making remarks about African-Americans.

Shelly Sterling’s grandchildren were heckled at school after the Donald Sterling audiotape surfaced, Baumann said.

Believing Shelly Sterling will prevail in the sale, Baumann praised her friend’s handling of the deal. Shelly Sterling pushed for a quick resolution because “she didn’t want to tear the city apart, tear the fan base apart, and tear the Clippers apart,” Baumann said.

“She put this together and delivered it in a neat package to the NBA,” Baumann said.

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Blake Griffin has become one of the best in the league, but he’s far from perfect

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Photo by Associated Press

Blake Griffin just completed his fourth season in the NBA. It was his best, and the first three were darn good. That’s not to say the 6-foot-10 power forward doesn’t have room for improvement. All players do.

Griffin averaged a career-best 24.1 points. He also pulled down 9.5 rebounds per game, shot a career-high 71.5 percent from the free-throw line and shot 52.8 percent from the field even though he took more outside shots.

Griffin finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting behind Kevin Durant and LeBron Jones. Clippers coach Doc Rivers thought Griffin should have finished second behind Durant. Griffin was that good this season.

Whereas Griffin is probably known most offensively for his powerful dunks, he spent a good part of the off-season working on his outside shot, which often looked real nice from about 15 to 18 feet. He did struggle with it at times, but not so much that it deterred him using it.

One interesting statistic had Griffin leading the Clippers in fouls. He committed an average of 3.3 during the regular season and a whopping 4.15 during 13 playoff games. When Griffin is in foul trouble, the Clippers do suffer and he was in too much foul trouble during the post-season. You don’t really want Griffin to tone down the ferocious part of his game, so he might always lead his team in fouls. But averaging more than four fouls in the playoffs is not a good thing and Griffin must cut down on that when it’s the right time to cut down.

The other thing in this regard is the very idea that Griffin complains on virtually every foul for which he is whistled. Yes, a lot of NBA players beef when they are called for a foul. But Griffin – and the Clippers as a whole – do it too much. One would think Griffin is never guilty of a foul the way he carries on sometimes. Don’t think for one second officials don’t remember all of that, because they do.

The very idea that the player who finished third in the MVP voting had so many fouls called on him in the post-season says a lot. If you have a right to complain, do it. If you don’t, knock it off.

Griffin is too talented and too important to his team to be that guy who hurts his team because of excessive belly-aching.

All that said, Griffin is just a beast on the court. He took so much pounding from defenders this season, that he was able to come up with the numbers he did tells a lot about just how terrific a player he has become.

Griffin said after his team was eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals that he was going to continue to work on his outside shot over this off-season. If he gets even better in that department and can continue to improve upon his free-throw shooting, it won’t be surprising to see him win the MVP award sometime in the next few years.

Griffin, just 25, is signed through the 2017-18 season. He is slated to make $17,632,688 in 2014-15.

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Chris Paul makes All-Defensive first team for the fourth time

Point guard Chris Paul has been selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team for the fourth time during his nine-year career.

Paul, who led the league in steals with a 2.48 average, received 64 first-team votes. Joining him on the first team are Defensive Player of the Year center Joakim Noah (105 first-team votes) of the Chicago Bulls, forward Paul George (65 first-team votes) of the Indiana Pacers,  forward Serge Ibaka (54 first-team votes) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and guard/forward Andre Iguodala (57 first-team votes) of the Golden State Warriors.

Voting consisted of a panel of 123 sports writers and broadcasters.

The second team is made up of forward LeBron James of the Miami Heat, guard Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets, guard Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, forward Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs and center Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers.

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