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NBA charges Sterling, sets up June 3 hearing

Updated: 2014-05-21 06:48
By Associated Press in New York ( China Daily)

The NBA charged Donald Sterling on Monday with damaging the league and its teams with his racist comments, setting up a June 3 hearing after which owners could vote to terminate his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The league also said the banned owner has engaged in other conduct that has impaired its relationship with fans and merchandising partners.

"All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA constitution and related agreements," the league said in a statement.

Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by NBA commissioner Adam Silver after the release of a recording in which he made racist remarks. He has until May 27 to respond to the charge, and the right to appear at the hearing and make a presentation before the board of governors. He has the right to a lawyer at the hearing, but strict courtroom rules of evidence would not apply.

Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, the board chairman, will preside over the hearing, which is planned for two days before the start of the NBA Finals. If three-quarters of the other 29 owners vote to sustain the charge, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.

Silver has said he is confident he has the votes.

Sterling told a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to bring blacks to Clippers games during their conversation that was recorded. Sterling specifically mentioned Magic Johnson, then criticized the NBA Hall of Famer again as a poor role model during a recent interview with CNN.

"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," the NBA said.

The league also charged Sterling with issuing a false and misleading media statement about the matter.

Article 13 of the NBA's constitution, which deals with termination of ownership, states that one of the conditions is if an owner fails or refuses "to fulfill its contractual obligations to the Association, its members, players, or any other third party in such a way as to affect the Association or its members adversely."

A number of sponsors suspended their deals with the Clippers in the wake of Sterling's remarks, potentially hurting league revenues, and players have said they would consider refusing to play next season.

"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," the league said.

If Sterling does not respond to the charge within five business days, or appear at the hearing, it would be deemed an admission of the "total validity of the charges as presented", according to the constitution.

But even the players who want him out believe Sterling will fight, and his attorney sent a letter to the league last week informing it that Sterling wouldn't be paying the fine.

A message on the office voicemail of Sterling's lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, said he would have no comment now.

Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, has said she will fight to keep her 50 percent share of the team even if Donald Sterling is forced to sell, but the league said in its statement that "all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated" if the charge is upheld.

Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said he was reviewing the charges.

GOLDEN STATE AND KERR INK 5-YEAR, $25 MILLION DEAL

Golden State and Steve Kerr have completed the coaching contract agreed to last week.

The sides finalized the five-year deal worth up to $25 million on Monday. The team said it will introduce Kerr at a news conference on Tuesday at its downtown Oakland practice facility.

"We're very pleased to introduce Steve Kerr as our new head coach," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said in a statement.

"We are confident that he will be an extremely good fit for our team and our organization as we venture into the future. The fact that he played for several of the greatest coaches in the history of the game - including Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich - will serve him well, as will the many nuances that he learned from performing on the brightest stage during his incredibly successful, championship-filled career."

Kerr, 48, had been in talks with the New York Knicks about becoming their coach after Jackson took over as team president in March. He won three titles for Jackson in Chicago and another two under Popovich in San Antonio during his 15-year playing career.

Kerr also served as general manager of the Phoenix Suns from 2007-10 before going back to TV.

 

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