Shelly Sterling Will Put Up a Fight To Keep The Clippers
The saga of the Clippers ownership is still in limbo as Rochelle "Shelly" Sterling announced on Wednesday that she intends on fighting to keep her ownership of the team."I have been co-owner since 1981," Shelly Sterling said in her statement, according to the OC Register. "During those 33 years, I have been a diehard fan even when the team was in the basement of the league. Now that all of our hard work is paying off, I want to celebrate the success that we are finally achieving."
Although the NBA Commission banned her estranged husband Donald Sterling from the NBA and are working to remove him as owner of the Clippers, Shelly Sterling still has a stake in the team. Sources told the L.A. Times that the Clippers ownership is in a family trust and that Shelly Sterling has equal ownership as her husband. However, analysts told the Times she may need the approval from the other 29 owners to keep the team.
Shelly Sterling has been attempting to distance herself from the racist remarks that got in her husband into hot water in the first place. She said in a statement, "My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices." However, she was accused in a discrimination suit filed in 2007 of making some racist comments about her tenants. During a 2009 deposition, one tenant said she called him a "black motherfucker" and a property manager testified that she said "Latinos are so filthy."
The Sterlings settled the lawsuit in 2009 for $2.765 million and as part of the agreement would not have to admit to any wrongdoing. Shelly Sterling has continued to defend herself against those accusations. According to the Times:
Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said in a statement that she denied ever making racially charged statements to tenants and that allegations to that effect had never been substantiated. He also said the NBA never told her she would not be welcome at playoff games at Staples Center.
Los Angeles civil rights groups have vowed to boycott the team if Shelly Sterling continues to keep ownership. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said in a statement to the Times that "Shelly Sterling's history of bigoted actions and racist remarks has been well-documented and is every bit as odious as her husband Donald Sterling's bigotry."
The NBA hasn't commented on her plans to keep the team. However, a league official who did not want to be named told the Times that she was a "wild card" since she feels legally entitled to keep ownership of the team.
The NBA Commission wants a fresh start for the Clippers. On Tuesday, Clippers President Andy Roeser started his leave of absence from the team as the NBA searched for a new CEO. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a written statement to CNN: "This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances."
And it also looks like Donald Sterling isn't stepping down without a fight either, as TMZ reported that he was hunting for a top legal team.