NBA Owners Appear To Be In Line With Vote To Force Sale Of Clips, But Process Will Take Time
The NBA and its owners currently have "no timetable to take a vote" on whether to try to force Clippers Owner Donald Sterling to sell the team following his lifetime ban from the league, and while Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBPA "want that vote to happen as soon as possible, procedures must be followed," according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. Silver "has three days to provide Sterling a written copy of the charges, and Sterling has five days to answer." An NBA BOG special hearing will then "be held on a date no more than 10 days after Sterling's reply." If Sterling "doesn't reply in five days or fails to appear at the hearing, the league's constitution deems it as admitting to the truth of the charges." Sterling "can be represented by counsel at the hearing, but it's not a court of law." After hearing the evidence, the BOG will vote. A 3/4 vote from the BOG is needed to terminate an ownership, but "based on Silver's comments and statements from league owners, the owners plan to remove Sterling." If that happens, the league "will assume control of the team and seek a buyer." Acting NBPA Exec Dir Ron Klempner said, "We've seen the last of (Sterling) in this league. I really think the owners are going to fully support the effort that's going to be made" (USA TODAY, 4/30). NBA TV’s Vince Cellini: “The dye is cast for Donald Sterling." Even if he tries to hold onto the team through a series of lawsuits, it likely would "just be a slower death" (NBA TV, 4/29).
VYING FOR VOTES: NBA.com's David Aldridge cited a source as saying that there is "'no way' that an owner would side with Sterling, knowing the vote would surely be made public within minutes of it being taken." An anonymous owner hopes that the vote "will be taken 'hopefully before (the) July scheduled meeting' of the Board of Governors, but if not, it will definitely be addressed at that July meeting" (NBA.com, 4/29). Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive said he and his fellow owners found Sterling's comments "outrageous." He noted he "would be surprised if it isn't a unanimous vote." Ranadive was asked what his response would be if Sterling attempts to fight the league in court over ownership of the team. Ranadive said, "What I would say to Mr. Sterling is, 'Mr. Sterling, do the right thing now. Apologize to Magic Johnson, apologize to the NBA, the fans, the black community, the world at large and respect the wishes of the NBA. Put the team up for sale, take some of the profits and donate them to a good cause'" ("GMA," ABC, 4/30). He added, "I will be 100 percent supportive for forcing the sale of the team" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/30).Magic Chair Dan DeVos said the franchise is "behind Adam's recommendation and plan(s) to vote accordingly." In L.A., Mike Bresnahan notes some owners "used the phrase 'wholeheartedly' to indicate their approval," including Pacers Owner Herb Simon. The Clippers yesterday in a press release without attribution said, "Now the healing process begins" (L.A. TIMES, 4/30). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote Silver has given owners the "opportunity to remove one of their own, and let’s hope those votes become public." Jenkins wrote he "can’t imagine any owner wanting to be associated with support for Sterling" (SFGATE.com, 4/29). Bulls Chair Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement said, "We will support his recommendation to press for Mr. Sterling to relinquish his ownership" of the Clippers (SUNTIMES.com, 4/29). In California, Bill Oram lists each owner's response to Silver's ruling (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/30).
TAYLOR'S TAKE: NBA BOG interim Chair and T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor "will lead an owners’ committee that will pursue pushing Sterling out of their league." Taylor: "I'm not worried about the votes to do so." He sounded "weary" and said the last three days were "not three days that I wish to have again." Taylor: "It’s just kind of a sad experience, the situation we’re going through here. But one we need to deal with." He called Sterling's words "reprehensible" and said, "That’s why everybody feels so hurt about it, because it’s inconsistent with the NBA’s history. Some very serious action is needed to make sure everybody knows it’s not condoned." He said he supports Silver "100 percent." In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda reports Sterling "argued in his discussion with Taylor that he was taped illegally in a private conversation." Taylor: "That certainly came up as part of the information. But it just got outweighed now that it is out in public. How it got out is secondary to what got out. ... I don’t think there was any other decision to be made but this one" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/30).