Donald Sterling Reportedly Will Sue NBA If Forced to Sell Clippers

R. Cory Smith@@RCorySmithSenior Writer IMay 1, 2014

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Despite being cast out of the NBA, Donald Sterling plans to do everything he can to maintain control of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Updates from Thursday, May 14

SI.com's Michael McCann reports that Donald Sterling has hired a litigator to fight the NBA's sanctions:

SI.com has learned that Donald Sterling has hired prominent antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher, who has written a letter to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan threatening to sue the NBA. The letter, sources tell SI.com, claims that Sterling has done nothing wrong and that "no punishment is warranted" for Sterling. Blecher also tells Buchanan that Sterling will not pay the $2.5 million fine, which is already past due. Blecher ends the letter by saying this controversy "will be adjudicated."

Blecher's letter makes clear what many have anticipated: Donald Sterling will not go down without a fight and that he is taking active steps towards litigation. A letter of this type is considered a precursor to the filing of a lawsuit. Blecher's letter offers no ambiguity about Sterling's intentions.

"We reject your demand for payment," the letter tells Buchanan, who on May 14 informed Sterling by letter that he must pay the $2.5 million fine.

Updates from Monday, May 12

TMZ's Staff reports why several law firms have rejected Sterling as a potential client:

Donald Sterling has been REJECTED by at least 8 big law firms in his quest to sue the NBA ... we're told because they think he's toxic and would piss off their existing clients.

Multiple sources in the legal world tell TMZ ... Sterling has reached out to a number of extremely large, prestigious firms, both in L.A. and San Francisco, looking for representation ... but none were receptive.

Updates from Monday, May 5

TMZ's Staff reports Sterling is searching for the right lawyer to launch his lawsuit against the NBA:

Donald Sterling is on the hunt to hire a major L.A. law firm to sue the NBA for suspending him and attempting to strip him of ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers ... TMZ Sports has learned.

Sources familiar with the situation tell us ... Sterling's people were in touch with several law firms last week, including the powerhouse firm Glaser Weil.  Patty Glaser is one of the top litigators in the country and has repped scores of celebs, including Conan O'Brien and Keith Olbermann.  


Our sources made it clear ... Sterling will not go down without a fight.

Updates from Saturday, May 3

ESPN's Arash Markazi reports how much Sterling could sell the team for:

Updates from Thursday, May 1

CNN's Rachel Nichols has the latest development in Sterling's battle to maintain ownership:

Original Text

In a press conference to address the owner's racist comments in a recorded conversation on Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver hit Sterling with a lifetime ban and maximum $2.5 million penalty before making it clear that he will encourage the Board of Governors to vote in favor of a forced sale of the Clippers franchise. 

If the board does side against Sterling, he plans to take legal action against the league, according to Kevin Armstrong, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News:

Donald Sterling won’t go down without a fight, according to an NBA executive who is close to the disgraced owner of the Clippers, and will sue the NBA if the other 29 owners vote to force him to sell.

The wheels are in motion to remove Sterling, a process that the executive said Wednesday night would lead to a lawsuit by the disgraced owner, possibly tying up the future of the team for years.

"He is not going to sell the team," the executive said.

Another source close to the situation also said, "He’ll sue and it’ll take years to settle," according to the report.

Per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, lawyer Carl E. Douglas, who faced Sterling in court while representing Elgin Baylor, offered, "Donald Sterling is a surly, defiant, tyrannical rich guy who is a bully and used to having his way."

On the other side, Silver doesn't believe he should have any problem receiving enough votes from the owners to oust Sterling from his position, per The Associated Press:

I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him. We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views. They simply have no place in the NBA. ... This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player.

Multiple team owners, including Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns, have already made it clear where they stand, via Robert Baum of the AP:

LeBron James believes the process needs to get underway sooner rather than later, per USA Today's For The Win:

Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated noted that a lawsuit against the NBA might not be the stopping point for Sterling:

While a forced sale of the Clippers could very well receive the 3/4 vote required to pass, it's hard to fathom that Sterling, the longest-tenured owner in the league, will simply accept the verdict and move on. 

The NBA's legal team and Silver, who has a law degree in his own right, are undoubtedly gearing up for what could be a long, drawn-out process. 

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