The Los Angeles Clippers have a new CEO – the NBA’s first appointment since the shake-up over disgraced team owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks about African-Americans.
The league is hiring Richard Parsons, former chairman of both Citigroup and Time Warner, to lead the franchise, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Friday.
“I believe the hiring of Dick Parsons will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization,” Silver said in a statement.
Parsons is left to pick up the pieces after a now infamous audio recording toppled Sterling. The NBA moved swiftly to ban Sterling from the league for life, hit him with the maximum allowed fine – $2.5 million – and planned to force a sale of the Clippers. Team President Andy Roeser was also caught up in the controversy this week after the NBA announced he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence.
“Like most Americans, I have been deeply troubled by the pain the Clippers’ team, fans and partners have endured,” Parsons said in the statement. “A lifelong fan of the NBA, I am firmly committed to the values and principles it is defending, and I completely support Adam’s leadership in navigating the challenges facing the team and the league.”
It is increasingly unlikely that Sterling will maintain ownership of the team after Silver was hailed for urging at least three-fourths of team owners vote to force Sterling to sell a team he’s owned since 1981.
One thing the league doesn’t have to worry about is a shortage of potential buyers. Oprah Winfrey was one of the first big-name buyers to throw their hat in the ring in a partnership with media mogul David Geffen and billionaire Larry Ellison. Others clamoring for at least partial ownership include basketball legend Magic Johnson, who was personally mentioned in Sterling’s recorded rant, and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Meanwhile, Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, wants to maintain her half-ownership of the Clippers. Her lawyer toldThe Los Angeles Times Thursday that she would support a new co-owner to replace her husband and control managing the franchise. She “has the same right as anyone else in America to enjoy and control the fruits of [her] labors, and that includes deciding whether to keep or sell her 50% interest in the team,” her attorney told the Times.
Donald Sterling has maintained his public silence since phone recordings were released last month, capturing him in a racist rant against his girlfriend for appearing in public with black people.
The website Radar Online released yet another audio recording of a man identified as Sterling Thursday, where he defended his ownership of the Clipper franchise, saying he is “not a racist.”
“You think I’m a racist? You think I have anything in the world but love for everybody? You don’t think that! You know I’m not a racist,” he said in the recorded phone conversation with a man Radar Online identifies as a “long-time friend.”