NBA initiates charge against Donald Sterling; owners to vote on his status at June 3 meeting

May 19, 2014

In a move that has been anticipated for the past several days, the NBA initiated a charge today against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling seeking to terminate his ownership of the team.  If the NBA Board of Governors sustains the charge by a 3/4 vote, all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold to new owners.

The charge asserts that Mr. Sterling engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams.

Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and "minorities;" directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games; and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities.  Sterling's latter statement about the alleged lack of community support astonishingly arose during a television interview that occurred after he made his initial racist comments.

The NBA Constitution provides Mr. Sterling with the opportunity to respond to the charge by May 27, as well as the right to appear and make a presentation at a special meeting of the Board of Governors.  This hearing, which is planned for June 3, will be presided over by NBA Board of Governors Chairman Glen Taylor, the controlling Governor of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The NBA's statement today also noted that Mr. Sterling’s actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA’s relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA’s relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders.  Mr. Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.

According to the NBA's official position, all of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA Constitution and related agreements.  Sterling has hired counsel and will likely dispute the NBA's interpretation of the agreements.

By Staff of and news services

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