Whether he likes it or not, Donald Sterling may not own the Los Angeles Clippers for much longer.
The NBA on Monday charged Sterling with damaging the league’s reputation for fellow owners on down to the fans over his racist remarks against African-Americans. The league set up a hearing planned for June 3, when three-fourths of the remaining team owners will vote on whether to force a sale of the Clippers.
“Mr. Sterling's actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA's relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA's relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders,” the league said in a statement Monday.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver already banned Sterling from the league and fined him $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the league's bylaws.
Sterling became the subject of widespread scorn throughout the league after audio recordings released last week captured him in a racist rant to his female friend, V. Stiviano. He assailed her for posting pictures of NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson on Instagram, and said she should not bring him or other African-Americans to Clippers games.
The charges against Sterling also reference his response to the controversy after he attacked Johnson for his HIV-positive diagnosis and said the basketball icon did not support the black community.
“All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA Constitution and related agreements,” the NBA statement read.
Sterling has until May 27 to respond to the charges, and has the right to appear at the hearing and defend himself among the league’s Board of Governors.
The 80-year-old has already made clear that he’s not going down without a legal battle. In a letter to the league, Sterling’s attorneys refused to comply with the penalties, and even threatened a lawsuit if the NBA didn’t rescind them.