Donald Sterling's Lawyer Calls NBA 'A Band of Hypocrites' (Video)
The Clippers owner's attorney spoke exclusively to NBC's "Today," claiming that Sterling didn't think the lifetime ban would stand if he agreed to the sale.
Donald Sterling’s attorney lashed out at the NBA on Tuesday morning, just hours after the embattled Clippers owner said that his $1 billion lawsuit against the league was still on and that he no longer supports the sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Speaking exclusively on NBC’s Today, Sterling's attorney, Bobby Samini, said his client is being “singled out” by “a band of hypocrites.”
Samini said Sterling didn’t think the lifetime ban imposed by the NBA after audio emerged of him making racist remarks would stand if he agreed to the sale.
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“I’m not going to go into the particulars of the discussions, but that clearly wasn’t the understanding,” Samini said. “Of course [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver has come out now and made it clear that he’s not going to back off.”
Samini also defended Sterling’s mental state amid claims that he has dementia, saying “there is no issue as to his mental capacity” and adding, “there are some very good legal tactics as to why that issue has come up."
But he indicated that Sterling now intends to expose the NBA’s record of hypocrisy, repeatedly highlighting cases of discrimination the league has fought.
“We can look at the NBA’s own record,” Samini said. “There are four cases...that involved discriminatory conduct that was gender-based. This is a common practice for the NBA, and I’m not talking about the teams. I’m talking about the NBA itself…If you’re going to come after Sterling, maybe it’s time for the NBA to take a close reflection on their own conduct."
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Samini added, "The issue is not whether his conduct was appropriate. He’s apologized, and the statement that was released yesterday, it was pretty unequivocal. He’s apologized for the conduct. He understands that what he said was very hurtful."
Sterling apologized again for his remarks in a statement released to Today, saying “I am extremely sorry for the hurtful statements I made privately. I made those statements in anger and out of jealousy all in the context of a private conversation. While this is not an excuse for the statements, like every other American, I never imagined that my private conversation would be made public."
In his statement, Sterling says that he thought Silver’s haste in banning him, imposing a $2.5 million fine and ordering the forced sale of the Clippers “without conducting any real investigation” was wrong.
“The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and flies in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans,” Sterling adds. “I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights. While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled.”
Watch Samini’s full Today interview below.