Donald Sterling delivered his answer on Tuesday to charges that he damaged the league and said he is not giving up the fight for ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers in response to the NBA's move to oust him from the league.
In the 26-page response delivered by his lawyers, Sterling and the LAC Basketball Club, Inc., requested the NBA deny charges filed by the league itself that he damaged the league by disparaging black people in a recorded conversation that led the league's commissioner to call for his removal.
"The NBA's use of this illegal recording constitutes a clear and blatant violation of Mr. Sterling's California constitutional rights," the document read. "The authors of the charge did not have the courage, decency or honesty to acknowledge the circumstances surrounding Mr. Sterling's jealous rant or even that the source of their information was borne from the 'fruit of the poisonous tree.'"
The charge addressed in the response was issued May 19 and alleged that Sterling "engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA."
Sterling was recorded having a private conversation with his companion V. Stiviano, whom he chastised for posting Instagram pictures of herself posing with black people, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson. He was heard telling the woman not to bring Johnson to Clippers games.
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The response letter describes that conversation as a "lovers' tiff" that stemmed from a "jealous reaction to Ms Stiviano's statement that she was going to 'bring four gorgeous black guys to the game.'"
"Mr. Sterling was illegally recorded during an inflamed lovers’ quarrel in which he was clearly distraught; he did not take or support a position or action," the statement read. "A jealous rant to a lover never intended to be published cannot offend the NBA rules."
The response said Sterling's trial would not be fair or impartial. It listed the public statements made by other teams in support of banning Sterling, including the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings.
"We do not believe a court in the United States of America will enforce the draconian penalties imposed on Mr. Sterling in these circumstances, and indeed, we believe that preservation of Mr. Sterling's constitutional rights requires that these sham proceedings be terminated in Mr. Sterling's favor."
The document states that Sterling should retain ownership of the Clippers because the recorded conversation was in violation of state law; because expelling his family is unfair and would force them to pay a large capital gains tax; and because he didn't directly violate the NBA Constitution.
When the charges were filed against Sterling, the NBA maintained that his actions "provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA Constitution and related agreements."
The NBA Board of Governors addressed the response Tuesday evening and said it will meet June 3 to vote whether to sustain the charge against Sterling.
"Should the Board vote to sustain the charge, the Sterlings' interest in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold," the NBA statement read.
The response comes on a day when rumors surround who the team's potential bidders may be if Sterling is forced to sell. Potential interested buyers reportedly include Oprah, LA's richest man Patrick Soon-Shiong and ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The document did not address last week's report that Sterling surrendered control of the team's sale to his wife, Rochelle Sterling.