Donald Sterling Claims NBA's Efforts to Oust Him are 'Illegal' (Report)

Associated Press

In a 32-page response, the Clippers owner also vowed to fight the charges and said he has received offers of over $2.5 billion for the team.

Donald Sterling is not going down without a fight. 

The Clippers owner is now claiming that the NBA's efforts to force him to sell the team and eject him from the league are "illegal" and based on a recording of a private conversation that itself broke California law. 

Sterling, 80, made the allegation in a 32-page response obtained by USA Today, in which he vowed to fight the charges and said a forced sale would cause his family to take an "egregious" tax hit on the sale of the team. 

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Following reports that his wife, Shelly Sterling, has been fielding bids for the Clippers, the legal letter claims that he has received offers of more than $2.5 billion for the team, which he bought in 1981 for $13.5 million.

Referring to the alleged racist audio recording obtained by TMZ, Sterling's attorney stated that "a jealous rant to a lover never intended to be published cannot offend the NBA rules," adding that he did not consent to being recorded by girlfriend V. Stiviano, making the recording illegal in California.

The NBA's morals clause Article II is "is not meant to oversee morals and ethics in the home; it is meant to govern morals and ethics in conducting the sport of professional basketball," claimed the response. 

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"We do not believe a court in the United States of America will enforce the draconian penalties imposed on Mr. Sterling in these circumstances, and indeed, we believe that preservation of Mr. Sterling's constitutional rights requires that these sham proceedings be terminated in Mr. Sterling's favor," it continues. 

Meanwhile, the NBA has not yet confirmed whether it will allow Shelly Sterling to sell the team, and the league still intends to hold a June 3 hearing to terminate her husband's ownership as part of his lifetime ban for alleged racist comments. 

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"We continue to follow the process set forth in the NBA Constitution regarding termination of the current ownership interests in the Los Angeles Clippers and are proceeding toward a hearing on this matter on June 3," said spokesperson Mike Bass in a statement released Friday. 
Sterling was also hit with a $2.5 million for his controversial comments in the harsh ruling by commissioner Adam Silver on April 29.