Donald Sterling NBA racism row: LA Clippers owner charged with damaging league over racist comments

Disgraced billionaire's future will be decided by fellow team owners

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The Independent Online

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has officially initiated a charge against Donald Sterling over racist remarks he made during an argument with his girlfriend, a move that could see his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers terminated.

After the hearing, due to take place on 3 June, other team owners will vote to decide on the future of his ownership.

His lawyer Maxwell Blefcher has demanded a three-month extension for Sterling to prepare his response, Sports Illustrated has reported, a claim he has declined to comment on.

The disgraced 80-year-old billionaire has refused to pay a $2.5 million (£1.5 million) fine levied against him by the league and has threatened to take legal action against any forced sale of the Clippers.

Sterling found himself the target of widespread outrage when an audio recording emerged on the gossip website TMZ of him arguing with his girlfriend, 20-something model V Stiviano, about her posting a picture on Instagram posing with Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people,” Mr Sterling can be heard saying. “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it… and not to bring them to my games.”

He then sparked further uproar when he claimed Johnson “should be ashamed of himself” for having HIV during his first interview with CNN after the scandal broke.

In a summary of its charge against Sterling, the league said his conduct undermined the NBA's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damaged its relationship with fans; harmed other NBA owners, players and Clippers personnel; and impaired the league's relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders.

The NBA also said its inquiry into the scandal revealed that "evidence was destroyed" and that "false and misleading evidence" was provided to the NBA investigators.

Those acts, the NBA said, provide grounds for termination of Sterling's ownership under the NBA constitution and bylaws.