NBA (reportedly): Donald Sterling urged V. Stiviano to lie to investigators, is not estranged from Shelly

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What exactly did Donald Sterling do?

We know he said some ridiculous things about blacks on recorded audio. He also said heinous things about African-Americans in a CNN interview.

What other wrongdoings is the NBA alleging?

The NBA provided a summary of the charges:

Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and “minorities”; directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games; and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities.

Mr. Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.

James Rainey and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times obtained the NBA’s full 30-page list of charges. Among the details:

Sterling asked Stiviano to tell the NBA that she lied in her previous meeting with the league. The billionaire owner wanted her to tell the league investigators that the voice on the recording was not his and that she had altered the recording, Stiviano told the investigators. Sterling also allegedly tried to bring a quiet close to his wife’s lawsuit against Stiviano, which sought to recover some of her husband’s money used to buy Stiviano a home and several luxury cars.

Stiviano said Donald Sterling requested that she pay Shelly Sterling to settle the lawsuit, filed in 2013, and that he would return the money to Stiviano through “back channels.”

That’s a big one. If Sterling urged Stiviano to lie to NBA investigators, the league can use that ethical breach in its case against the Clippers owner.

As for Sterling trying to persuade Stiviano to settle the lawsuit, that doesn’t belong in the NBA’s purview – but it really is the heart of the matter. Sterling should have paid off Stiviano long ago, and he would have avoided all this.

It also says there is ample evidence that Sterling and his wife are not estranged, as has been suggested.

Shelly and Donald Sterling were videoed together shortly after TMZ leaked the audio, but she has since said that was only at the request of Clippers president Andy Roeser, who persuaded her that Donald needed her. That’s plausible. The NBA needs more evidence Shelly and Donald are still together than just their brief public appearance together and their shared history of alleged racism, but the league might have that.

Team President Roeser received a copy of the recording on April 9 from another employee of the team, who had gotten it from Stiviano, the charges allege. That was more than two weeks before the April 25 posting of the recording by the website TMZ.

After Roeser told Sterling about the recording, Roeser, on Sterling’s orders, told the unnamed employee to delete it from a phone, along with all related text messages, the NBA charges say.

I’m not sure that will stick as a wrongdoing. What’s wrong with Sterling deleting a recording of two people in a then-private conversation? At that point, he had no reason to believe the NBA was investigating it.

Roeser issued that statement for the team “falsely questioning the legitimacy and authenticity of the recording,” the NBA alleged.

I’m not sure how you can “falsely question.” Maybe the tape’s authenticity was false, but that doesn’t make question the authenticity false. Roeser – no matter what he suspected or should have suspected – wasn’t in position to know with absolute certainty the tape hadn’t been doctored.

Is that a technical out? Absolutely, but this is all about technicalities.

The NBA has a strong case against Sterling. It appears the league is also including some of its less-credible complaints, too, which is fine.

Even if the other owners don’t buy everything in this document, enough evidence remains to vote out Sterling.

Vanessa Bryant sues sheriff over Kobe Bryant helicopter-crash photos

Kobe Bryant crash site
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LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant, has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff claiming deputies shared unauthorized photos of the crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

After the Jan. 26 crash, reports surfaced that graphic photos of the victims were being shared. Vanessa Bryant was “shocked and devastated” by the reports, the lawsuit states.

The suit seeks damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The victims died when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles, during cloudy weather. They were traveling to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant’s sports facility in Thousand Oaks. The National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded what caused the crash on the outskirts of Los Angeles County but said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the Sikorsky S-76. helicopter.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously told news media that eight deputies took or shared graphic photos of the scene and he ordered the images deleted. The sheriff said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it does not apply to accident scenes.

“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva previously told NBC News. “We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit alleges the sheriff’s actions constituted a “cover-up” of the misconduct. The suit claims the photos could still exist.

“Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online,” the lawsuit states.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has not yet signed a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime. The legislation was prompted by the crash photos.

A statement from the sheriff’s department Tuesday incorrectly said such actions are now criminal. The bill has not yet been signed into law.

“Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take and share non-official pictures of this nature,” the statement said. “Due to the pending litigation, we are unable to offer further comment.”

Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Gary C. Robb, declined to comment.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the allegations that the graphic photos had been taken and disseminated in February.

Bryant previously filed a claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, in May. The suit was filed Thursday.

Separately, Vanessa Bryant has also filed a lawsuit alleging the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the flight.

The brother of the pilot has said in a court filing that Bryant knew the risks of helicopter flying and his survivors aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate, while the helicopter company, Island Express, says it is not responsible for damages, calling the crash, among other things, “an act of God” and “an unavoidable accident” that was beyond its control.

Chicago Bulls hire Billy Donovan as coach

Billy Donovan coaches Thunder-Bulls
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Billy Donovan left the Thunder despite them offering a new contract. Maybe it wasn’t as much money as he desired to coach a team that could be entering rebuilding. But active head coaches rarely turn down an NBA job unless they know they’ll land on their feet.

Donovan will land on his feet – with the Bulls.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first broke the story, the Bulls confirmed it soon after.

“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls. The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level,” Chicago head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. “We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster. Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”

This is a major credibility upgrade for Chicago, which fired Jim Boylen. Donovan is a solid NBA head coach who adapts to his players rather than putting them through extreme measures.

Considering they just hired Arturas Karnisovas as president, the Bulls might have the patience for a rebuild. Donovan will be tasked with overseeing the development of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr. and the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft. Donovan’s time as a college coach at Florida shows he can help players progress.

But Chicago also frequently faces pressure, especially internally, to win sooner than later. Donovan inherits veterans like LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky. Donovan showed at Oklahoma City he could manage a team with immediate expectations.

Is this group’s long-term future inspiring? No. Is this group’s present inspiring? No.

But Donovan provides a little boost in both areas.

Celtics: Romeo Langford out rest of playoffs after wrist surgery

Celtics guard Romeo Langford
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The Celtics don’t have quite enough dependable players to fill a playoff rotation. So, beyond its core, Boston has juggled deep-bench minutes throughout the postseason.

One of those options – Romeo Langford – will no longer be available.

Celtics release:

Celtics guard Romeo Langford this morning underwent successful surgery to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. He will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

A rookie, Langford also suffered a right-hand injury last season at Indiana. A pattern? Probably not. But it’s another interruption in the 20-year-old’s development.

For Boston’s playoff hopes, this is a minor setback – one made even smaller by Gordon Hayward returning (and staying). Though more of a forward, Hayward clears the way for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to handle more guard minutes, a few of which could have gone to Langford.

Adam Silver: It’s on U.S. government whether American companies, like NBA, operate in China

NBA commissioner Adam Silver
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Politicians have repeatedly criticized the NBA for its involvement in China.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is defending his league.

Sopan Deb of The New York Times:

Senators have power to affect the United State’s foreign policy, including where American companies are permitted to operate. The NBA shouldn’t face unique scrutiny for acting like a business, seeking to maximize profit, within legal parameters.

Silver is generally right: There is value in exposing American values to countries with authoritarian regimes. Basketball can be a good vehicle for doing so. Those connections can inspire change for the better.

But the league has repeatedly failed to uphold American values it espouses in its dealings in China. That warrants criticism and leaves Silver’s response quite lacking.