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Report: NBA will argue Donald Sterling violated contracts

By James Herbert | NBA writer

Adam Silver and the NBA reportedly have a plan in case Sterling fights them. (USATSI)
Adam Silver and the NBA reportedly have a plan in case Sterling fights them. (USATSI)

More: Sterling banned for life | Latest updates | NBA news

When NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that he'd banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, he also said that he would do everything in his power to make Sterling sell the team. The NBA's constitution allows for the league to remove an owner if the owner fails to fulfill contractual obligations to the Association, and, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell, its legal strategy will be to prove that Sterling did violate contracts when he made racist remarks in the private conversation that was released by TMZ.

Sources with knowledge of the league's strategy say that there are, in fact, actual contracts that it will maintain Sterling violated should he choose to fight the league's desire to force him to sell the team if the league can get the required 75 percent of owners to agree to make the move.

One of those documents, which Sterling signed when he first bought the Clippers in 1981, and signed various amended versions since, states that an owner will not take any position or action that will materially and adversely affect a team or the league. Owners also sign morals clauses, which state that they will be upheld to the highest standard of ethical and moral behavior.

Rovell added that "sources with knowledge of the NBA's legal strategy" are confident that they will be able to force a sale.

The league announced on Tuesday that Clippers president Andy Roeser, who worked for Sterling for more than three decades, would take an indefinite leave of absence so as to not get in the way of the new CEO it will soon appoint to manage the team.

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