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
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
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
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 Clippers.
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 in court.
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 family trust.
"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)
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