Donald Sterling says NBA officials are ‘bullies,’ ‘hypocrites,’ ‘monsters’
(CNN) — A defiant Donald Sterling calls the NBA “a band of hypocrites and bullies” in a written statement the long-time Los Angeles Clippers co-owner sent to the media through one of his lawyers. He also wrote that the NBA needs to examine its own “discriminatory practices” rather than try to take away his personal property.
“We have to fight for the rights of all Americans. We have to fight these despicable monsters,” Sterling wrote in the statement, provided to CNN by Bobby Samini.
In Sterling’s 420-plus word statement, he says the NBA has been able to “exact its reign of terror” through revenues from the fans.
He slams new Commissioner Adam Silver, who has worked for the league since 1992 but took over the top spot in February. Sterling said Silver is “focusing his energy on violating my rights, attempting to take my property, and signing autographs for TMZ.”
Sterling said the NBA has been sued many times for discrimination. He said Silver and the NBA need to look at their own conduct and the conduct of the other 29 owners in the league and they are centering their attention on him to “draw attention away from their own discriminatory and repulsive conduct.”
The statement comes as a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN that Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, intends to ask a California probate court on Wednesday morning to “verify her standing” as the head of the family trust and rule that she had the right to sell the Clippers.
Shelly Sterling announced May 30 that she had reached an agreement to sell the franchise that her husband bought in 1981 to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion.
Technically, a family trust owns the Clippers. Last month, two sources with detailed knowledge of the situation told CNN that two neurologists have deemed Donald Sterling to be mentally incapacitated.
According to one of the sources, there is a provision in the Sterling family trust that says if either Donald Sterling or Shelly Sterling become mentally incapacitated, then the other becomes the sole trustee.
Donald Sterling is mentally sound, another lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“It strikes me as totally incredible to argue that this man — I talk to him every day — is incapable of making decisions and is mentally incompetent,” Blecher said on Tuesday afternoon. “And I don’t believe any court is going to make a finding to the contrary.”
Donald Sterling initially vowed to fight the sale and filed a lawsuit against the NBA, then said he was going along with the sale — until Monday, when he again pulled his support. “From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I have worked for 33 years to build the team,” Donald Sterling said.
Sterling, 80, has been embroiled in controversy since a recording of a conversation with his friend V. Stiviano surfaced. The recording included a series of racist comments.
The comments, first posted on TMZ, sparked outrage among NBA players, executives and fans. The commissioner fined Sterling $2.5 million and banned him for life from the NBA.
In Tuesday’s statement, Sterling said he has apologized for the remarks and his apology is sincere.
He also made inflammatory comments to CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” about African-Americans, which the NBA had planned to use as part of its evidence against Donald Sterling in an owners’ meeting where a vote would be taken on whether to terminate Sterling’s ownership rights. The meeting was canceled.
His lawsuit makes clear that he believes the NBA has no right to force such a sale, and the league was wrong in banning him for life and fining him.
In addition to damages, the lawsuit seeks a restraining order.
By Brian Todd and Steve Almasy