The NBA has accused Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the team of “destroying evidence” in an attempt to cover up his responsibility for recorded racist comments, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The newspaper, citing a 30-page document prepared by the NBA to get Sterling removed as owner, reported that he tried to persuade companion V. Stiviano to say he was not the one talking with her in the private conversation that later became public.
The Times reported that Sterling, his wife, Shelly, and team president Andy Roeser were part of a scheme to “provide false and misleading information” to the NBA’s investigator regarding the authenticity of the recording, which was first posted by TMZ.com.
The documents also allege that the Sterlings are not estranged, as has been suggested, citing public apperances together after the recordings became public, the Times reported.
The NBA has charged Sterling with damaging the league and its marketing partners, and he has until Tuesday to respond. A hearing is scheduled in New York, where Sterling can appear in front of the other owners.
It will take three-quarters of them to terminate Sterling’s ownership as well the 50 percent stake owned by his wife.
Sterling’s attorney asked for a three-month delay, which the league rejected. His wife’s lawyer has said she is entitled to keep her half of the franchise even if her husband has to surrender his, so one or more legal fights could be necessary.
On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he believes the league is right in trying to force Sterling to sell the team, referencing an emotional speech given by Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant after winning the league’s MVP award.
“I think Kevin Durant as our Most Valuable Player embodies what this league is all about, and frankly Mr. Sterling doesn’t,” Silver said before the NBA draft lottery.
Silver already banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million, but wants owners to force the sale, even though he realizes there may be obstacles.
“This is an unprecedented proceeding. Will there be bumps in the road? Presumably yes,” Silver said. “Mr. Sterling, on one hand, at least in his CNN interview, indicated a willingness to accept the judgment of his owner partners. His lawyers are saying otherwise, so we’ll see.
“But this will all get worked out. I know we’re pursuing the right course here and doing the right thing.”
Silver acted quickly with his punishment of Sterling and owners have followed, the 10-member advisory/finance committee meeting weekly since.
Silver said Sterling’s recorded remarks caused anger and sadness in a league in which most players are black.
Silver said he would prefer if Donald Sterling chose to sell the team on his own, but the process to take it is already well underway.
“At least within the boundaries of my authority, I feel an obligation to protect the people who are within this league, and so that’s my reaction,” Silver said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.