Donald Sterling Refuses NBA’s $2.5 Million Fine, Threatens to Sue

Donald Sterling and his antitrust lawyer Maxwell M. Blecher have sent a letter to the NBA threatening to sue the league, while also refusing to pay the NBA’s $2.5 million fine for his recent racist comments.

The letter, first reported by Sports Illustrated and USA Today, claims that Sterling did nothing wrong and that “no punishment is warranted.” Sterling’s lawyer contends that the 80 year-old’s “due process rights” were violated when he was permanently banned after a brief four-day investigation. Blecher also insists Sterling did not violate any article of the NBA constitution.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million on April 29 and issued him a lifetime ban for the remarks, which were secretly recorded by his mistress and released on TMZ’s website last month.

The Clippers, eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night, are currently being overseen by ex-Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN wrote of the Sterling letter: “Donald Sterling can refuse to pay his $2.5M fine all he wants to make a statement, but (the) league will just withhold it from TV payout money.” NBA team owners are scheduled to meet soon to force a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, although Sterling and his attorneys could wage a rather lengthy legal battle against the league.

The Clippers, sold to Donald Sterling in 1981, were recently valued at $575 million by Forbes magazine.

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  1. Rena Pax says:

    This is a voice from the future. This will not end well for the NBA. NBA by laws do not trump the U. S. Constitution. There are probably many food or retailer franchise owners attending Klu KLux Klan meetings even as I type. Do we hunt them down and see that they lose their franchises as well. Does the NBA really want Sterling or his heirs to go to the Supreme Court? Really?

  2. Tim says:

    This is just the beginning of a very long & very lengthy process- sterling, just do the world a favor & get the HELL out of the NBA!

    • Outstanding comment and true. Someone needs to option this story quick. It has everything Hollywood feeds on. Race, sex, scarlet women, money, sports, marriages of convenience. What more could you ask for in a drama?

  3. Charles says:

    If I were Sterling, with his money – I wouldn’t pay any fine nor turn over ownership. I’d make the NBA pay dearly for what they’re after. Sterling has a right to his opinion, regardless of what I or you think of them. He has a right to speak, however vile his speech may be. I do not believe he violated any laws. This country is becoming overly PC and for that our entire public discourse has been stymied.

  4. MissingRonnieR says:

    He was recorded without his knowledge in a private conversation. The NBA has no right to fine or restrict his livelihood. You can not punish people for thought in this country He will win in court. He should.

  5. larry richter says:

    This is marvelous news!! He should fight it and Sue all involved in this tyrannical decision! I don’t agree with what he said but will defend his right to say it. I know the people reading this are just americans, @ have literally no idea whatsoever what it means to be free, but so everyone knows…… There is a thing called the first amendment. It guarantees the freedom of speech. And he can say whatever he likes. He didn’t break any laws what so ever. If u don’t like that please do all real Americans that know anything what so ever about the principles of liberty and freedom get out of here. You r seriously ruining it for all of us:) I’m not a slave cause u like to be one. Please read, read ; read, stop it with the t.v …..b.s.. Please stand up 4 urself. If u don’t no one will

    • asdf says:

      You should go research what the First Amendment /actually/ does, before attempting to tell other people what it is. Crash course: it starts with ” **Congress** shall make no law…”.

  6. Tyler Durden says:

    Anybody or anyone who thinks that a person’s property can be taken away simply for uttering “offensive” remarks really needs to re-read the Constitution and become more familiar with the laws of the land.

  7. AmishEcstasy says:

    Donald Sterling makes racist comments in the privacy of his own home gets banned for life
    Al Sharpton makes racist comments in public and gets his own TV show
    ……just sayin’

  8. SocksForWok says:

    This guy is so old that and has seen and dealt with too much of the negativity of minorities to have his opinion changed. He may be an asshole and his words he spoke are definitely not appropriate for anywhere outside of the home, but he was illegally recorded and should not have had to deal with these bogus punishments and ridicule. I hope he fights and wins.

  9. lamigra says:

    Good for Sterling! His comments may be distasteful, but they sure as hell aren’t illegal. Whether he was legally recorded or not, he is entitled to his own opinions and ideas.

  10. Backindasaddle says:

    There’s a bigger picture here. Nobody will dispute that Mr. Sterling is a blithering old fool. However, he was recorded illegally, it was a private conversation, he is entitled to his opinions, and there is still something in our laws called the Freedom of Speech. It happens to be The First Amendment to The Constitution of The United States of America.
    Because of this, I think Mr. Sterling has all the the legal right in the world to reject the fine and fight the entire thing. In fact, for the sake of all of our rights to Freedom of Speech and the fact the he in no way broke any laws whatsoever, I hope and pray that he wins any lawsuits that come from this. If it goes to court, any other outcome would be absolutely devastating to all of our constitutional rights and protections as citizens of The United States of America.

  11. The NBA has never dealt adequately with the criminal behavior amongst its players in the last 25 years.
    It will not bother me in the least if the NBA is severely injured in this law suit and results in its ceasing to exist. I will certainly cry many crocodile tears. Racism will be accused of many people who have paid for admission when they no longer do so. As if they have a moral obligation to continue to patronize what they do not want to.

  12. Jay Stanley says:

    Good man. Sue them Sterling has a right to his opinions — it’s called free speech, and it’s protected by the Constitution. A man has the right to his beliefs, even if his beliefs offend others. Those who are offended — too bad, get over it.

  13. Breezio says:

    Sterling’s statements in which he did not use racially charged words are offensive, but they were done in an illegally recorded private phone conversation.
    His anti-trust law suit now has the NBA scared because the NBA owners know it is a monopoly and they are afraid that this case may open the door for federal regulation of the sport.

    Also, why did Sterling go after Magic Johnson? Why was Sterling’s girlfriend hanging out with Magic? Who released the phone audio? There is a giant drama playing beneath the surface that has been going on for some time which is the real reason the phone conversation was released.

    These events are very intriguing and Sterling is ready to burn down the NBA and leave it in ashes long after he will have been dead.

    Sterling is a litigious, angry, old man with lots of money. If the NBA wants to keep running it’s own business without federal regulation, they will settle favorably with Sterling or fight the law suit for many years. In the end, Sterling will keep the Clippers for a few years more or until he dies.

  14. Snarkasterous1 says:

    I find the comments made by Sterling to be offensive, and stupid.

    However, who among us has NOT said something offensive and stupid while engaged in a private conversation in our own homes?

    I cannot imagine how the NBA, in its knee-jerk reaction, has the legal right to do what it’s trying to do.

    Should the NBA prevail, where will this end? Imagine – you go to a baseball game with some colleagues. After a couple of beers, upon witnessing a throw-out on the field, your manager growls “that fat so-and-so can’t run worth a damn.”

    Chubby Sally, secretly tape recording all that is said, sues on Monday for your manager’s having “Damaged Her Career and Made Her Feel Unwelcome” due to his unreasoning hatred of obese individuals…..

    …..and on, and on, and on…..

    Where will it end?

    Ridiculous. Of course we’re all supposed to kowtow to the race pimps, endlessly “finding” that racism is the root cause of all minorities’ struggles, and frantically squelching the FACT of a SEVENTY THREE PERCENT illegitimacy rate for black Americans…..which FACT is the REAL largest causal driver of poverty, crime, incarceration, violence, gang membership, lack of educational attainment, and a host of other social ills.

    Sad. And a huge waste of lives. Sad.

  15. Lorne Russell says:

    Much as we might loath and despise Sterling I don’t see that the NBA should have any right to do anything to him for something he said privately in his own home.

  16. brock2118 says:

    Mark Levin recently reviewed the NBA Constitution. It doesnt appear they can take the team away. Beyond that the whole idea of illegally taping a private conversation then using it to publicly strip someone of their property reeks of the French Revolution

  17. Meme says:

    In a recent reversal by Sun Trust on the decision to cease doing business with the Benham Brothers for their religious beliefs (reversal because the much larger population of Christian Conservatives stood up to them), they released the following statement:

    “SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.”

    Read more:

    So no matter what you think of Mr. Sterling, he had every right to say what he said and and many have died for his right to say so.

  18. EddieInFL says:

    Donald Sterling has a right to say whatever he wants to say. It’s called the first Amendment.

    I also think Sterling is an 80 year old lump of crap. Disgusting human being. But he still has a right to say what he wants.

    Everyone else has a right to NOT SIGN with his team or to NOT ATTEND his games.

    No one has a right to fine him for what he says.

  19. Jim Lively says:

    The media has heard the accusation, judged him guilty, and passed sentence.
    Adam Silver just went along with the media. After all, he’s a sports commissioner and knows the winning team when he sees it.
    So now you see who is in power. Now you know the truth. It has been and always shall be the media. Even the judges are subjected to the media.

    Sentence has been passed. The media has spoken, and another mans freedom is lost.

    Somebody please explain to me PRECISLY which laws he has broken. And then explain the justification of the seizure of property.

  20. Aabrynne says:

    Why has Stiviano not been charged with wiretapping? I cannot see Sterling who was an attorney himself, knowingly agree to have this taped in his own home. If he did, and she has all this tape, where is it, I want to hear him say it. There is a difference if someone says, we are going to have a conversation, may I tape it? and being in the middle of an argument and say, I should have taped this, and he says well go ahead, because she is implying that she didn’t, when she says “I should have”, so he would still be expecting privacy.

    All in all there are supposedly 100’s of hours still left of her recordings. I think they should be confiscated, and turned over to the proper authorities, and gone over with a fine tooth comb. And since they were illegally obtained, they should be destroyed.

    Let not forget here, these faux outraged players, owners and NBA officials, ALL KNEW how Donald Sterling was for YEARS, and they did NOTHING. As long as the money was flowing, they kept their mouth shut. Now that it hit the public, they need to “act ” enraged and outraged”. This is so fake..

    I hope Sterling sues the pants off them all, and I hope the hooker goes to jail.

  21. marsha says:

    Thomas Jefferson said ” I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll die for your right to say it !” Sterling’s free speech rights have been violated ! The media is crucifying him ! Hang in there, Sterling and FIGHT for your rights !!!

  22. Swededawg says:

    Good, go after the hypocrites!

  23. Liven-in-Iraq says:

    I think Sterling wins.

  24. Robert R. says:

    Donald Sterling is the victim. Who is the NBA to say what a man can say in their home? This is America, when one man loses his freedom of speech then we all lose our freedom. Who made the NBA the league of decency? If people can’t respect that we can say whatever we want that’s their problem. I don’t care what he said. He could say whatever he wants and that’s his prerogative and if I want to say what I want I will. Donald should fight this thing, and then sue the NBA for defamation of character.

  25. Ghostmaker says:

    I hope he does. The freedom of speech should not be destroyed. You don’t like what someone says then don’t listen.

  26. David says:

    I fully support Sterling and the NBA can go to hell

  27. Seems to me he should, and he should win.

  28. Bobby Head says:

    What happened to freedom on speech? And the NFL also is putting gag orders on it’s players for speaking out. Shame on the NBA and the NFL. No season tickets for me.

  29. Shamu says:

    I think Donald Sterling is right. No matter how bazaar, twisted, or offensive his comments were, he had a RIGHT to say them. Someone must have been EAVESDROPPING (listen secretly to what was said in private). Was Mr. Sterling’s PRIVACY RIGHTS VIOLATED? When the COMMISIONER made his comments was he guilty of THREATENING Mr. Sterling. Who and What gives the COMMISIONER the right to JUDGE based on Mr. Sterling private comments and then declare on his own, that Mr. Sterling no longer has a right to continue owning his Ball Team? Who made the Commissioner Judge and Jury? I hope Mr. Sterling sues for a Gazillion dollars and is awarded triple damages.

  30. scott says:

    Why would he pay a fine to the NBA while the NBA is simultaneously kicking him out? If he doesn’t own a team, and is banned from the league, why would he ever agree to pay the league?

    What are they going to do, take his team away a 2nd time?

  31. Trayvon Martin says:

    I hope he sues them for every penny they have and then some.

  32. Michael with Moxie says:

    John, I agree with you 100%. However as long a one party knows the conversation is being recorded it is ok. It’s only illegal when a third party records two unknowing parties.

  33. Len says:

    I hope this comes back and bites Magic in the ass. Donald isn’t going to lose his team and he wont have to pay that huge fine. I hope Silver gets bit in the ass too.

  34. natb1 says:

    Sterling should have asked Michael Richards where he got the “bigot license”.

  35. Brown says:

    The truth need to come out and manipulated model is the key. Why would she turn on her generous sugar daddy?
    Who put her up to it and why – check out the background who was she talking to?
    Was she offered anything and does she really believe she can become President of the United States?

  36. Tom says:

    The whole pro sports thing is stupid. Guys with IQ”s around 99 making millions….Insane

    • Al says:

      And that’s the genius of being a millionaire or billionaire of capitolism. It simply comes down to your talent and who you know which is the true materialization of intelligence and not book smarts. Albert Einstein “The greatest form of intelligence is your imagination.” The is the sole difference between mankind and AI, Artificial Intelligence has already surpassed mankind a decade ago, but AI is hindered by its own IMAGINATION. So Einstein was right and he didn’t come close to living in this era!

      Another example, look at the majority of the world’s billionaires and show the ones who completed college, example from the British royal families, Russian and German oligarchies to the Oil Sheiks, to the Americans like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Ross Perot, Bloomberg, the list goes on and on – they are all billionaires with no college degree or the type of book smarts that marks them as the genius you would think. You’ve been programmed to think that a college education or an aptitude test equates millions to billions, whereas that is the furtherest thing from the facts. Everything in this world is taking what you know and reinventing it before the next guy figures it out and makes millions off of it. Sterling is one of the rare men in the world that is worth a billion dollars with a college degree, but obviously it doesn’t equate his intelligence. I hope you understand today’s message.

  37. Brown says:

    Thankfully he is capable of fighting back.
    Many people have been ripped off in this fashion.
    Who’s next?

  38. labillyboy says:

    The problem with knee jerk reactions is they can come back to haunt you because you decided not to think things through in the first place. While the NBA was patting itself on the back for really sticking it to Sterling and praising the rookie commissioner, you had to know Sterling and his track record to understand they are now in for a scorched Earth response.

    First off they just didn’t do the math, if he sells the team, he gets hit with a $300 million capital gains tax bill… THAT will pay for a lot of lawyers. Next, they forgot to think about his wife, who in Kalifornia, a community property state, effectively owns half the team. Lastly, they didn’t do a complete investigation as to the source of the recordings, likely illegally obtained in the state which requires two party agreement to tape a conversation.

    Yep, Don Sterling has some really awful views on life, which were well known for years. None of this should surprise anyone, yet TMZ pays off a prostitute who is friends with Magic Johnson, who has lusted after owning an NBA team for years; and THAT recording is suddenly the means to act. I don’t know, seems an awful lot like blackmail to me with a very convenient, cozy relationship to Magic… I smell a rat here.

  39. There is no way they should be able to do this to him. He didnt do anything in public..

  40. smash44 says:

    There is no legal precedent for what the NBA did. This was not in context of the NBA it was his private life.

  41. joe132 says:

    good for him.fight back

  42. Scarred says:

    UGH! his face!!

  43. regina fernandez says:


  44. Benny says:

    If he broke no rule or law, then there was no crime and he shouldn’t have to pay a fine.

  45. Kris Atkins says:

    Private conversation is just that private. Not like he gave a speech on national TV. This is America!
    Gotta love how the libs eat their own when they become old and senile.

    • Sterling is a registered republican. His dumpy girlfriend made it public. His bad choices in who he associates with has brought this to the public light. He signed a character clause with the NBA. His character has been exposed as VERY flawed MULTIPLE times in the past few decades. This incident just sealed his fate. This is America. An America that has billion dollar companies that need to protect their investments. “He’s got the AIDS”…….seriously…

      • Ryder says:

        So…l??? He has a character flaw in your view. Good for you. So what? Why do you think anyone cares? Nobody is asking you to date him…. Or even be his friend. You are not making a single valid or meaningful point.

  46. Norm Al Guy says:

    He has been a known bigot for years. His actions as a landlord were public record–he paid his fines there and they knew about it. They tolerated him and even had him up for an NAACP award because he gave boatloads of cash to their Liberal causes. But he was publicly outed, and they had to cover up their shame by coming down extra hard on him.

    I’d say less than 2% of people could withstand the scrutiny if our private conversations were recorded without our knowledge and our worst comments publicized.

    His private comments were wrong, but not illegal. Despite his views, he paid his people well, including blacks.

    He has a great case. That said, I would posture exactly as he is right now, in order to position for as high a settlement offer as possible, getting bought out at a premium instead of a discount. After all, who wants to be in business based on winning a court case?

  47. I do not care what he said in private (which could have been taken out of context and he has not descriminated against any black player), one canNOT take a private conversation and use that do deprive one of contract or other rights. No industry can deprive you of your rights for non-PC words, thoughts, and beliefs. That NFL player who “twittered” disparaging remarks against the new Rams player should also sue.

  48. David Rossi says:

    Maybe, just maybe Sterling did not want the ho being around Magic because she could contract the HIV and pass it to him.

  49. JDoe says:

    The man is an old racist fool…that said, NO WAY should he be fined for something he said
    IN PRIVATE… He has buckets of money, I hope he uses it to sue the pants off the NBA. When we ALL can be sued for something we say IN PRIVATE, we have entered a TRULY a police state…scary stuff, that.

  50. The NBA doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

    And any punitive measures taken by the commissioner, such as cancelling his franchise or voiding Clipper player contracts won’t pass muster by the owners, because the other owners will be afraid it will happen to them.

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