by Marcel Mutoni / @ marcel_mutoni

The LA Clippers have been a part of Donald Sterling’s family since 1981. According to Sterling’s wife Shelly, she has no intention of ceding control of the franchise.

The NBA may have banned Donald Sterling for life, but his wife says that doesn’t apply to her (or her family) whatsoever.

Per the LA Times:

Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling said Wednesday that she believes she is legally entitled to maintain ownership of the NBA team and will attempt to do so, even as the pro basketball league pushes to remove her husband from the team he has owned for 33 years.

Sterling described her long tenure as a “die-hard” fan of the Clippers and said she believes that the sanctions against Donald Sterling — which included a lifetime ban and $2.5-million fine — do not apply to “me or my family.”

Shelly Sterling’s position presents a “wild card” for the pro basketball league as it faces its biggest crisis in memory, said a league official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. Her intention to hold on to the team is a wrinkle apparently not contemplated by NBA officials when they moved nine days ago to strip her estranged husband of ownership.

Mr. Sterling has said very little publicly since his racist comments were exposed, but Shelly Sterling has been very outspoken, and she appears ready to take up the legal fight to keep the Clippers within her grasp. The team is reportedly held in a family trust, which gives Donald and Shelly Sterling equal ownership, and each takes control if the other dies.

The NBA has begun the process of forcing a sale of the LA Clippers and distancing itself from the old power structure, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario under which any member of the Sterling family would retain ownership.

It is, however, worth noting what Commissioner Adam Silver said the day he announced the lifetime ban:

When Silver announced Donald Sterling’s punishment, he said there had been “no decisions about other members of the Sterling family,” adding: “This ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling’s conduct only.”