The comments from Silver, signaling a willingness to strike a deal
to avoid a showdown in his efforts to oust Sterling, came a day
after the league formally charged that racist comments by Sterling
have so seriously damaged the league that he should be removed.
The league has given Sterling until May 27 to respond to its charge
and invited him to appear at a special hearing before the NBA Board
of Governors set for June 3, after which the league's 29 other
owners who make up the board could vote to strip him of his team.
Sterling, 80, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, came under
fire more than three weeks ago when TMZ.com posted an audio
recording of him berating a female friend for publicly associating
with black people, including former NBA great Earvin "Magic"
The recording sparked an uproar from fans, NBA players and
commercial sponsors. The furor led Silver to ban Sterling for life
from the NBA and to call on the other owners to force a sale of the
Under the NBA constitution and bylaws, Silver needs to muster at
least a three-fourth's majority vote to terminate Sterling from the
franchise. Silver's lawyer has threatened to fight any such action
Asked at a news conference in New York whether he would consider
trying to hash out a deal "man-to-man" to avert a confrontation,
Silver noted that for the time being, the Clippers still belong to
Sterling and his estranged wife, Shelly, a 50-percent owner though a
[to top of second column]
"It is their team to sell, and so he knows what the league's point
of view is, and so I'm sure if he wanted to sell the team on some
reasonable timetable, I'd prefer he sell it than we go through this
process," Silver said. "So if that's what you mean by man-to-man,
I'm open to that."
Neither the Sterlings nor their attorneys were immediately available
to comment on Silver's latest remarks.
Several luminaries from sports and show business, including
television host turned media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Hollywood
executive David Geffen, have already signaled an interest in buying
the Clippers if the team were put up for sale.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Ken Wills)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.