US & Canada

Race-row NBA owner Sterling in legal wrangle over sale

Donald Sterling appeared in Los Angeles, California, on 21 April 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life after racist comments he made went public

The National Basketball Association has tentatively backed the sale of the LA Clippers to the former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

However, Donald Sterling, the embattled owner who is embroiled in a racism row, may sue the NBA, his lawyer said.

Maxwell Blecher told US media his client planned to sue for damages for termination of team ownership.

Mr Sterling's wife had reached a deal on Thursday to sell the team through a trust to Mr Ballmer for $2bn.

The NBA announced on Friday it had cancelled a hearing scheduled for 3 June that would have considered Mr Sterling's ownership of the Clippers, and said it tentatively approved the sale of the team to Mr Ballmer.

Ms Sterling and the trust "also agreed not to sue the NBA and to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling", US media report.

But Mr Blecher was reported as saying his client would file a lawsuit on Friday.

Details of the lawsuit remain unclear but it has been tipped at nearly $1bn (£597m).

Banned for life

Mr Sterling was earlier banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5m after racist comments he made went public.

The league announced the ban and fine soon after an audio recording of Mr Sterling emerged in the US media in which he was heard asking a woman not to associate in public with black people nor to bring them to games.

The league has charged him with damaging the reputation of the NBA, and later agreed to begin the process of selling the team.

Following news of a deal between Ms Sterling and Mr Ballmer, another lawyer for Mr Sterling said his client refused to back it.

Bobby Samini argued that as a co-owner of the team, his client had to consent to the Clippers' sale.

"He's not going to sell," he said. "That's his position."

Mr Ballmer said in a statement he was honoured to have his name put forward to the NBA for approval.

"I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win - and win big - in Los Angeles," he said.

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