Donald Sterling, banned from owning a pro basketball team for inflammatory remarks he made about African Americans, called the National Basketball Association’s action illegal because it was based on a “lover’s quarrel” that was “illegally recorded.”
“This was an argument between a jealous man and the woman he loved that should never have left the privacy of the living room,” Sterling said in a letter to the NBA obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the letter.
Sterling, controlling owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for 33 years, came under fire after TMZ.com posted an audio recording of him criticizing a female friend for publicly associating with black people, including NBA great “Magic” Johnson.
The NBA has scheduled a hearing for June 3, when Sterling can address the charges before his fellow owners. The league could vote to terminate his ownership of the franchise, which would take a vote by 23 of the other 29 owners, the NBA said in a May 19 press release.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week he would prefer to let Donald Sterling and his wife Shelley Sterling sell the team “on a reasonable timetable” rather than proceed with trying to forcibly terminate their ownership.
Sterling handed controlling interest in his team to his wife, the co-owner, and she began negotiating with the league to sell the club, Reuters reported on Friday, citing sources.
Sterling said in the letter that he has received offers “in excess of $2.5 billion” for the team, but did not name potential buyers.
Investment bank Guggenheim Partners and a group headed by billionaire David Geffen plan to submit a joint bid for the Clippers, according to a person with knowledge of the bidding process.
Geffen’s group includes television icon Oprah Winfrey and Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison. In 2012, Guggenheim headed a group that included basketball great Magic Johnson and bought the LA Dodgers baseball team for $2.15 billion. Johnson is a part of Geffen’s group as well.
Bids are due on Thursday, according to the person. A decision could be made by the end of the week.
Among the other bidders are former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and billionaire Anthony Ressler. Ressler met with Clipper co-owner Shelly Sterling at a Malibu restaurant last weekend to discuss a potential bid, according to the person.