Shamed Clippers owner hires lawyer to fight league’s lifetime ban and $2.5 million punishment.
As expected, banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling isn’t going away without a litigious fight.
According to SI.com, Sterling’s lawyer informed the NBA that Sterling will not pay the $2.5 million fine that league commissioner Adam Silver hit him with last month, in addition to a lifetime ban. Sterling strongly feels that “no punishment is warranted.” SI.com reports that Sterling has hired prominent antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher and that the type of letter he sent the NBA is usually a precursor to the filing of a lawsuit.
The website goes on to state that Blecher’s letter identifies two legal defenses for Sterling.
For starters, Blecher claims that his client didn’t violate any article of the NBA constitution, referencing Article 35, which governs players' misconduct, and several other provisions. The league should counter that by arguing that Sterling violated Article 13(d), which bars owners from violating contractual obligations, including the obligation that owners not engage in unethical conduct or take positions adverse to the NBA.
Blecher’s letter to the NBA also argues that Sterling’s “due process rights” have been violated by the league.
SI.com also states that a Sterling lawsuit against the NBA could possibly invoke former league commissioner David Stern to testify about his knowledge of owner misconduct.
This past Monday night, during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sterling apologized for making racist remarks against African-Americans on a released recording, saying he made a “terrible, terrible mistake.” During the sitdown, however, he proceeded to maliciously disparage NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, questioning his contributions to Black people and slamming the hoops legend for having "AIDS."
The next night, also while being interviewed by CNN’s Cooper, Johnson expressed that the entire Sterling situation is “sad” and he implored the disgraced Clippers owner to not fight the sale of his franchise and instead, simply, “go on with your life.”
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(Photos from left: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, Elsa/Getty Images)