Shelly Sterling Intends to Maintain Ownership of Los Angeles Clippers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

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Updates from Sunday, May 11

Shelly Sterling has continued to speak of her desire to keep her stake in the Clippers (via Arash Markazi of ESPN):

Sterling also spoke more about her husband's comments and her interest in the franchise (via Shelby Grad of the Los Angeles Times):

In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, Shelly Sterling also suggested Donald Sterling is suffering from dementia, which she said could explain comments caught on tape in which he reportedly tells a female friend not to associate with black people.


"I was shocked by what he said," she told Walters. "But I don't know why I should be punished for what his actions were."

The NBA responded to the recordings by banning Donald Sterling for life and saying it would seek to force him to sell the team. But Shelly Sterling said she sees the Clippers as part of her family legacy.

"I'm wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there's 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?" she said.

Late Sunday the NBA issued a statement regarding Sterling's recent comments via the the NBA on ESPN Twitter account:

The back-and-forth between Sterling and the NBA continued Sunday night as Shelly's attorney issued a statement in response to the NBA's press release per Markazi: 

Updates from Friday, May 9

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN provides an update on the NBA's view on Shelly Sterling's intention to maintain ownership of the Clippers:

The NBA believes it has the legal grounds to oust both Shelly Sterling and her husband as owners, despite the fact that commissioner Adam Silver's punishments were specifically leveled only against Donald, according to sources with knowledge of the league's legal strategy.

Rachel Nichols of CNN provides an update from Sterling's lawyer:

Updates from Thursday, May 8

USA Today's Brent Schrotenboer reports that Sterling doesn't want control of the Clippers after all:

Shelly Sterling does not want to be the managing owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and does not want to buy out the other 50% share of the team owned by her husband Donald, a person close to the Sterling camp told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday.

But she does want to keep her 50% share in the team, and she is willing to be have an outside buyer come in to take her husband's stake while she stays in the background as a passive owner, as she is now, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.

Asked if the NBA was OK with such a scenario, the person said Mrs. Sterling remains in talks with the league.

Original Text

Though the NBA is trying to wrest the Los Angeles Clippers from her husband's grasp, Shelly Sterling has made it clear that she's not going anywhere. 

James Rainey, Mike Bresnahan and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times report that Shelly plans on maintaining an ownership stake in the team should the league succeed in taking it away from Donald Sterling:

Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling said Wednesday that she believes she is legally entitled to maintain ownership of the NBA team and will attempt to do so, even as the pro basketball league pushes to remove her husband from the team he has owned for 33 years.

Sterling described her long tenure as a "die-hard" fan of the Clippers and said she believes that the sanctions against Donald Sterling—which included a lifetime ban and $2.5-million fine—do not apply to "me or my family."

Some fans and experts maintain that in order to truly send a message, the NBA must ensure that no member of the Sterling family keeps the Clippers. 

Ralph Lawler, who calls Clippers games, is among that crowd: "I think in the eyes of the players and the coaching staff and the basketball staff, the page has been turned, and I think it would be difficult to turn it back," he said.

Shelly's most vocal critics would point to the 2006 housing discrimination lawsuit in which she was alleged to have posed as a health inspector to illegally enter tenants' apartments, per KABC in Los Angeles

Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch also questioned Shelly's recent actions, including distancing herself from her husband:

Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin thinks that ownership shifting to Shelly might not be the worst thing in the world, as it could still lead to a sale:

If she does want to take over for her husband, it will present a problem for the league. According to the L.A. Times article, the NBA isn't planned for that potential outcome.

Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today also reported last week that if either Donald or Shelly file for divorce, that would create even more issues:

How could it happen? In the case of the Clippers, a divorce filing by either Sterling or his wife, Rochelle, could stall the NBA's move to force a sale, putting the team under the jurisdiction of a California family court as the Sterlings divide their community property. That process could be complicated as the team is owned by a family trust, which includes Sterling's wife.

Plenty of fans already want to move on from this issue, but it's probably months away from reaching a resolution. 

Keeping one Sterling away from the Clippers will be hard enough. Keeping two away may be impossible.


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