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Silver: ‘Confidence level high’ on Sterling ouster

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Updated 1 year ago on

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver is resolved to continue to move forward in the process to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team.

“My confidence level is high,” he said Tuesday at a news conference before the draft lottery. “We know we’re doing the right thing and I know I have the owners behind me.”

In his first public comments since Sterling was banned from the league for life on April 29 for his racially insensitive remarks captured on an audio tape, Silver expressed his disappointment that the “unprecedented proceedings” have taken away from the playoffs.

“It’s beyond anger,” Silver said of his feelings regarding Sterling. “It’s a certain sadness, and you feel it. It’s almost a malaise around the league. That’s what I sensed when I first met with the Clippers. It’s something deeper than anger.

“There’s something particular about race issues when it comes to sports, and maybe to the NBA in particular. I mean, it’s no secret. We have a league where the majority of the players are African-American and the majority of the owners are not.”

The NBA announced Monday that it planned a June 3 hearing that could be followed by a vote of the team owners to force Sterling to see the franchise, which he has owned since 1981. Sterling has until then to respond to the charges that he voilated the league’s constitution and bylaws.

Silver reiterated that he believes the league is doing the right thing and following the right course of action.

“Mr. Sterling still owns the Los Angeles Clippers,” Silver said. “Mrs. Sterling, as I understand it, through a trust, owns 50 percent as well. It is their team to sell. And so he knows what the league’s point of view is, and I’m sure if he wanted to sell the team on some reasonable timetable, I’d prefer he sell the team than we go through this process. So if that’s what you mean by man to man, I’m open to it.”

Silver said he would not grant Sterling any additional time to reply and that he expects a legal challenge from the Clippers owner.

“The timing is laid out in the NBA Constitution,” Silver said. “We’re following it to the letter.

“Will there be bumps in the road? Presumably, yes. Mr. Sterling, on one hand — at least in his CNN interview — indicated a willingness to accept the judgment of his owner partners. His lawyers are saying otherwise, but we’ll see. We’ll get this worked out. I know we’re pursuing the right course here.”

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