The estranged wife of embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will vie to keep the team in her family's hands, despite the NBA's efforts to strip her husband of his ownership, according to a published report.
Rochelle Sterling, who is a co-owner of the team, told The Los Angeles Times that she believes sanctions issued against her husband in response to recordings of him making racist remarks do not apply to "me or my family." She said through representatives that she has hired a law firm to represent her in her bid to keep the team.
On Thursday, an attorney for Rochelle Sterling told the Associated Press she won't agree to an "involuntary seizure of her interest" in the team.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced last month the league's plans to force Sterling to give up the team he has owned for 30-plus years and hit the billionaire with a $2.5 million fine. The decision came out of an internal investigation that Silver said confirmed that Sterling was the man heard making derogatory comments about African Americans in a recording originally posted online by TMZ.
The league has signaled a desire to act quickly to oust the longtime owner, a move that was publicly embraced by the team in a statement. An advisory committee has already started meeting about the process for forcing a sale, and a host of celebrities and wealthy investors have expressed interest in purchasing the team.
Rochelle Sterling's reported bid to maintain ownership of the Clippers could complicate those efforts. Silver said in his original announcement that the sanctions, which included a lifetime ban from all NBA games and practices, applied only to Donald Sterling.
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There had been no discussions about whether he could sell to a family member, Silver said during the announcement. Rochelle Sterling, also known as Shelly, has been closely involved with the franchise for years and she has attended the Clippers' post-season games surrounded by bodyguards.
Rochelle Sterling's comments come as her attorneys continue a legal battle involving her estranged husband's companion, V. Stiviano -- the woman heard on the recording at the heart of the controversy. The recordings were posted about a month after Rochelle Sterling and her attorneys filed a lawsuit that names Stiviano and seeks the recovery of community property.
Donald Sterling, who has remained in seclusion since the NBA's decision, has not commented publicly on the controversy.
On Wednesday, the NBA's Advisory/Finance Committee met for a second time via conference call to discuss Sterling's ouster. The 10-member committee talked about the "process and timing regarding the termination of Mr. Sterling's ownership of the team," according to a league statement.
The committee is scheduled to meet again next week as part of a process that could eventually involve a vote by the league's other owners regarding Sterling's termination. The league has announced plans to appoint a CEO to supervise the Clippers as the team prepares for a transition away from Sterling's three decades as owner.
The team's president announced earlier this week he will take a leave of absence.