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article imageSuspended Clippers owner refuses to pay fine

By Nathan Salant     May 17, 2014 in Sports
Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling told the National Basketball Association on Friday that he won't pay a $2.5 million fine and objects to his lifetime ban for racist comments.
In a letter to the NBA, Sterling also threatened a lawsuit if the lifetime ban he received last month from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is not rescinded.
"We reject your demand for payment," the letter says, according to Sports Illustrated magazine, according to Cable News Network (CNN).
Sterling, the NBA's longest-tenured team owner at 33 years, was permanently banned from the league and fined three days after racist remarks he made to a friend were released online by celebrity gossip site TMZ.com.
In the remarks, Sterling tells his friend not to appear in public with black people, particularly retired NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
The comments were condemned nationwide by players and fans.
Sterling has since apologized for the remarks and insisted he was not a racist.
"I'm apologizing, and I'm asking for forgiveness," Sterling told CNN's Anderson Cooper last week.
"Am I entitled to one mistake?" he asked. "After 35 years . . . I mean, I love my league, I love my partners ... It's a terrible mistake, and I'll never do it again."
The league's 29 other owners have taken preliminary steps to force Sterling to sell the team under NBA rules, CNN said, including setting up an advisory committee meeting that has already met three times.
But Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, says she intends to keep her 50 percent ownership in the team.
Sterling also appears to be gearing up for a court battle with the league, hiring noted sports antitrust attorney Maxwell Blecher to represent him in the matter, CNN said.
Blecher represented the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in a successful lawsuit to force the National Football League to allow the Oakland Raiders to move to Los Angeles in 1982.
The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995.
Blecher also was Sterling's attorney in 1984 when the NBA reduced a $25 million fine imposed after he moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles over league objections, CNN said.
Silver also appointed former Citigroup and Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons to take over as Clippers chief executive on an interim basis, CNN said.
Despite all the controversy, the Clippers managed to get into the second round of the NBA playoffs before losing to Oklahoma City last Thursday.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said after the 4-2 series loss that the controversy was a distraction but wasn't to blame for the team's defeat.
"Obviously, it's nothing that anybody wants to go through -- nothing I want to go through -- but overall, I thought our fan base, I thought the city, and I thought our guys really hung in there ... very proud of them," he said.
"None of us signed on for this, but this is what happened," Rivers said.
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