NBA Commissioner on Donald Sterling's Latest Rant: 'I Have No Idea What He's Talking About'
In response to Donald Sterling's statement on Monday that he is pulling out of the deal to sell the Clippers, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the ongoing issue when he appeared as a guest on the halftime show during ABC's coverage of the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat game on Tuesday.
The latest developments in the saga include reports that Shelly Sterling's attorney will be in probate court on Wednesday to ask for an order to expedite the sale of the team. This came after news that Donald Sterling has decided not to sell the team and intends to go back to his original plan to sue the NBA for $1 billion.
"The 'deal' is off; the lawsuit is on," Donald Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement on Monday.
"Adam Silver had a previously scheduled interview with ESPN before the news broke," explained NBA Countdown anchor Sage Steele at the American Airlines Arena in Miami during game 3 of the NBA Finals, before asking what's next for the league.
"It is so unfortunate that this is what we're talking about after seeing record scoring from the Spurs…but the next step for the league is to stand back and allow this dispute to between Donald and Shelly Sterling to play out," Silver said.
"We'd scheduled a hearing for our owners in which we were going to move to terminate his franchise, and we never got to that hearing because Shelly Sterling said, 'I'm going to sell the team,' then she went ahead and sold the team," Silver went on to say.
"Donald's attorney sent a letter saying he agreed to selling it, but because we also knew that Donald was suing us, we asked Shelly to send a letter to indemnify us, to ensure if Donald didn't go along with the sale she would cover us, which she did. So this is now between the Sterlings, and we're on the sidelines."
The latest letter from 80-year-old owner, titled "Why I Am Suing the NBA?", stated: "The NBA wants to take away our privacy rights and freedom of speech," reported ESPN. "The NBA has a history of discriminatory practices which is supported by the numerous lawsuits filed by NBA employees claiming gender based discrimination.
"The reason Adam Silver is focused on the sale, instead the larger social issue, is because doing so would require him to examine the NBA's own discriminatory practices, including those that occurred under his many years in leadership. If the NBA is sincere about their approach, Adam Silver needs to publicly examine the NBA's own conduct and the conduct of each and every Owner."
The commissioner, who took over the role from David Stern in February 2014, told Steele: "I have no idea what he is talking about, and the focus should not be on me or the NBA. This is about Donald Sterling and his conduct, and if he wants to litigate, then he will litigate."
He went on to say that he doesn't think it will have any impact on television negotiations with the NBA -- "that is up to your bosses [at ESPN and ABC] and Turner. Whatever we think it is worth in terms of a franchise, the market will set the value for TV rights."
As for whether he has turned to his predecessor for guidance during this ongoing drama, Silver said: "I worked for him [Stern], and we were colleagues for 24 years, and we are also close friends, I tried to keep him out of the Sterling situation as much as possible, but I have learned so much from him, so he's given great advice."
As for the ongoing battle on the basketball court between the Spurs and Heat, "we were meant to talk about this game!" joked Steele, as Silver said that "it's been an incredible series."
San Antonio ultimately beat Miami 111-92. Game 4 will air on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET on ABC.