A lawyer hired by embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling claims in a letter sent to the NBA that Sterling has done nothing wrong and won't pay a $2.5 million fine levied after his secretly recorded racist comments were made public, it was reported today.
The letter from attorney Maxwell Blecher to NBA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Rick Buchanan also threatens a lawsuit against the league, according to Sports Illustrated and ESPN, which cited sources they did not name.
The letter claims Sterling has not violated the NBA's constitution, which allows for an owner to be forced to sell a team if three-quarters of the league's owners agree, and contends that the 80-year-old real estate investor was denied due process when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned him from the league for life and ordered him to pay a $2.5 million fine just four days after the leaded audio recording was made public.
There was no immediate response from the NBA.
On the recording, Sterling chastised frequent courtside companion V. Stiviano for appearing in photographs with black people -- including Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson -- and bringing them to Clippers games.
Sterling subsequently told CNN's Anderson Cooper in a televised interview that he was not a racist and that he had been "baited" into making the comments. He also told Cooper that Johnson was a poor role model because he was promiscuous, had contracted the virus that causes AIDS and has not, in Sterling's opinion, done much for black people.
Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million, but the team recently was valued by Forbes around $575 million, making it the league's 13th most valuable.
--City News Service