When reports emerged that Donald Sterling would allow his wife Shelly to oversee and negotiate a forced sale of the Clippers, we knew it wouldn’t take the NBA very long to respond.
And essentially, the news doesn’t change anything as far as the league is concerned.
“We continue to follow the process set forth in the NBA Constitution regarding termination of the current ownership interests in the Los Angeles Clippers and are proceeding toward a hearing on this matter on June 3,” said NBA spokesman Mike Bass in an official release.
Commissioner Adam Silver seemed open to the possibility of Sterling selling the team on his own when he addressed the media prior to the Draft Lottery in New York earlier this week.
“Well, I’ll only say that Mr. Sterling still owns the Los Angeles Clippers,” Silver said, in response to a question about whether or not there might be an opportunity for he and Sterling to hash it out man-to-man. “Mrs. Sterling as I understand it through a trust owns 50 percent of the team, as well. It is their team to sell, and so he knows what the league’s point of view is, and so I’m sure if he wanted to sell the team on some reasonable timetable, I’d prefer he sell it than we go through this process. So if that’s what you mean by man‑to‑man, I’m open to that.”
That may still be a possibility, and as Silver mentioned, it would certainly be better for that to take place than for the league to take a financial and public relations hit by being forced into a time-consuming battle through the courts.
But what’s important is that despite reports that Sterling is in fact interested in selling the team on his own by using his wife as a proxy, it doesn’t change the league’s position, and it won’t for a second deter the NBA from continuing in its process to force Sterling out.