LA Clippers ownership twist, Sterling’s letter: “The team is not for sale”

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Donald Sterling has reversed his decision to support the sale of the L.A. Clippers and is pursuing legal action against the NBA.

After it looked like the Donald Sterling saga was all but over, the man himself wrote a letter, obtained by ESPN, in which he states that he believes that NBA commissioner Adam Silver acted “illegally” in banning Sterling for life and forcing him to sell the Clippers.

He goes onto say: “I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights. I intend to fight to keep the team.”

Sterling was banned for racially offensive remarks made to his girlfriend that were recorded and then released to the general public. After facing public backlash and league wide condemnation, Sterling also apologized in his letter: “To be clear, I am extremely sorry for the hurtful statements I made privately. I made those statements in anger and out of jealousy all in the context of a private conversation.”

It was reported that Sterling was only willing to accept the sale of the team to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on the pretense that the NBA would lift his lifetime ban from the league and rescind his $2.5 million fine.

In response to this notion NBA spokesman Mike Bass said: “there was never a discussion involving the NBA in which we would modify Mr. Sterling’s penalty in any way whatsoever. Any suggestion otherwise is complete fabrication.”

Whether Sterling’s case has any traction or not will likely depend on whether or not he can successfully challenge his estranged spouse Shelly Sterling’s decision to sell the team.

Shelly Sterling became the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust, of which ownership of the Clippers is a part, after Donald Sterling was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and declared unfit to manage his own business affairs. Sterling will need to bring her to California probate court if he wishes to mount a case.