By Nathan Fenno and James Rainey Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Donald Sterling responded formally to the NBA’s attempt to terminate his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, saying it was illegal to oust him based on a “lover’s quarrel” that was “illegally recorded.”
Sterling’s response, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, included a cover letter that contended he had received offers “in excess of $2.5 billion” to purchase the franchise he’s owned since 1981. The potential buyers weren’t named.
Sterling said that his inflammatory remarks about blacks were made in a private conversation with V. Stiviano and became public when the TMZ web site published them in April.
The response goes on to claim Sterling was “distraught” when he made the statements because Stiviano told him she planned to bring “four gorgeous black guys to the game” and that should be a mitigating factor.
“This was an argument between a jealous man and the woman he loved that should never have left the privacy of the living room,” the response said.
The response further claims Sterling is hindered from conducting his own investigation of the matter because he’s “locked out of his office at Staples Center.”
In the aftermath of the recording, the NBA banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million. NBA owners are scheduled to meet in New York on June 3 to vote on ending the ownership of Sterling and his wife, Shelly. They co-own the team through a family trust.
The response claims next week’s hearing will “be neither fair nor impartial” because of other NBA owners’ public statements about the matter.
“If the Sterlings are forced to sell their interest in the Los Angeles Clippers, they will face vast and unavoidable financial consequences,” the response said.