Donald Sterling’s wife and her lawyers are prepared to wage war against the NBA, and LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers admits that it would be very tough for the team to handle it if Shelly Sterling legally retained control of the franchise. Per the LA Times and AP:
“I think it would be a very hard situation,” Rivers said Thursday. “I can guarantee you every person wouldn’t be on board with that. Whether I would or not, I’m not going to say, but I just know that would be a very difficult situation for everybody … because of the relationship. I think it would be a difficult situation because we wouldn’t know really who was in charge.”
Rivers said he hadn’t spoken with Shelly Sterling since she called him last week and asked if it was OK for her to attend a playoff game. She also told him at the time to tell the players that “she loved them,” Rivers said.
Shelly Sterling said Wednesday that it is her legal right to keep the Clippers, a team she has co-owned since 1981. Her husband was banned for life from NBA activities because of a racially insensitive audio recording in which he argued with a female friend. The league is urging him to sell the team.
The Clippers’ next playoff game against Oklahoma City is Friday at Staples Center. Rivers was asked about her possible presence at the game.
“That’s her choice,” Rivers said. “She can be a ticket-buyer or whatever.”
“There’s no playbook,” Rivers said. “I think what’s appropriate is what everyone thinks is appropriate. It’s not whether I think it is or not. It’s what the masses think is. And that doesn’t mean the masses are right. If we’ve learned anything, the masses can be wrong too. Who knows what’s right in this? We do know what’s wrong in this. We don’t know what’s right.”
Rivers said he didn’t ask players if they would be uneasy with Shelly Sterling maintaining control of the team.
“I don’t ask. There’s certain things I need to bring up,” Rivers said. “We need to be uneasy about (Russell) Westbrook and (Kevin) Durant. That’s who we need to be really uneasy about, because they’re putting more pressure on us right now.”
Shelly Sterling’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, said his client “will not agree to a forced or involuntary seizure of her interest.”
“As her lawyers we will fight vigorously to defend her property rights,” he said.
O’Donnell said Mrs. Sterling has no interest in managing the Clippers and wants a new investor group to come in with a professional management team.
O’Donnell said that Shelly Sterling has been separated from her husband for the last year and is considering divorce. There is no record of legal separation documents being filed, though O’Donnell said the couple is living apart.
O’Donnell said he spoke with NBA officials Thursday morning but declined to elaborate. He said Mrs. Sterling has been working cooperatively with (NBA Commissioner Adam Silver) and his staff and supported his announcement seeking a new chief executive officer for the team and the NBA’s decision to place longtime team President Andy Roeser on leave.
O’Donnell said Mrs. Sterling “abhors” her husband’s comments and that “the Sterlings may share the same last name, but she does not share his values on race.” The Sterlings have been married 57 years, O’Donnell said.
“We abhor guilt by association in America,” O’Donnell said. “The sins of the husband cannot be imputed to the wife or children.”