Doc Rivers: Shelly Sterling Staying with Clippers Would Be 'Difficult Situation'

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 7:  Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, left and his wife Shelly pose for a photograph before his team played the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Donald Sterling scandal may be partially resolved, but it looks like it's going to leave one heck of a hangover.

According to's Ramona Shelburne, "Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling confirmed Wednesday that she intends to keep ownership of the team in her family despite the NBA's move to oust her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by commissioner Adam Silver last week in the wake of racist remarks he made that were published by TMZ."

How does head coach Doc Rivers feel about that?

We can probably guess how Doc feels.

The organization is looking to acquire a clean slate, one that's free of all things Sterling—including Shelly. So long as a Sterling holds the reins of the franchise, there will be a stench surrounding it, something tainted that doesn't feel quite right.

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke recently unleashed on the other Sterling:

Shelly Sterling is that toxic. She is that dangerous. She is more than just preening blond and leather. She is, by all appearances, cold and calculating. One minute she is claiming her estranged husband is not a racist. The next minute she is condemning his "small-mindedness" and "racist comments."

Plaschke includes a number of accusations made against Shelly Sterling in various depositions. One, "claimed that she told a tenant she agreed with her husband's opinion of African Americans, saying, 'See, Sterling is right, they do smell.'"

Here we go again.

It wouldn't be terribly surprising if there were some like-mindedness shared between the two Sterlings. They did, after all, decide to get married once upon a time. 

But even if we bracket the alleged remarks attributed to Shelly, it's largely the symbolic factor that matters. The Clippers need some distance. The NBA needs to wipe the Sterling stain clean off this franchise. There are no two ways about it, no compromise that would satisfy the collective outrage that's been expressed thus far.

Nevertheless, it's entirely possible Shelly Sterling could get in the way. Per Shelburne, "Shelly Sterling's position is potentially a complicating factor for the league, if its aim is to force a sale of the team to owners outside the Sterling family. It could become further complicated if either Shelly or Donald Sterling files for divorce."

The question would then become how the Clippers themselves react, whether they'd even be willing to play for Shelly. If Rivers' initial reaction is any indication, things wouldn't be pretty. 

Rivers' diplomacy shouldn't be confused with complacency. He's stood firm against Sterling's comments and is likely lying low until more information about Shelly's intentions surfaces. He's also looking to keep his team focused on basketball.

The Clippers are currently tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder at one game apiece in the Western Conference Semifinals.