Report: NBA believes it can legally remove Sterling's wife as owner

The NBA reportedly believes it has legal authority to remover Shelly Sterling as owner.. (USATSI)
The NBA reportedly believes it has legal authority to remove Shelly Sterling as owner. (USATSI)

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

ESPN reports that the NBA believes it's within its legal rights to remove Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of Donald Sterling, from ownership of the Los Angeles Clippes based on her having never been approved as majority owner by the NBA's Board of Governors. From ESPN: 

The NBA believes it has the legal grounds to oust both Shelly Sterling and her husband as owners, despite the fact that commissioner Adam Silver's punishments were specifically leveled only against Donald, according to sources with knowledge of the league's legal strategy.

Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of exiled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, has made it clear to the NBA that she intends to retain her 50 percent ownership interest in the team.

She has publicly and privately cooperated with the league in its actions to ban her husband for life and move to oust him from ownership. However, the league's contention will be that Shelly Sterling -- while entitled to a 50 percent interest in the franchise -- has never been approved by the board of governors as the controlling owner. She and team president Andy Roeser, who went on an indefinite leave of absence this week, were only alternate governors.

In order to become the team's new controlling owner, Shelly Sterling would have to be approved by the board of governors, which is unlikely given her association with her husband of 58 years.

via NBA believes it has legal grounds to also oust Shelly Sterling from ownership, according to sources - ESPN Los Angeles.

Mrs. Sterling has been involved in conflicting reports over the past 72 hours indicating first that she intended to fight the NBA through suit to retain ownership, then later that she intended to cooperate with the sale. The NBA has been pursuing procedures toward a vote to terminate Donald Sterling's ownership after Commissioner Adam Silver banned him for life. 

The NBA has been very careful about how it has gone through this process, looking to mitigate its liability in the event that Sterling pursues suit. The NBA's advisory board has met twice in the two weeks since Silver's decision, removed Andy Roeser as president of the team and installed Dick Parsons as CEO Friday

Magic Johnson told reporters Friday that no NBA player would play for the franchise if Shelly Sterling remains in an ownership position, based not only on her association with her husband, but her involvement in multiple allegations of housing discrimination over the years. 

The Clippers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder to fall beind 2-1 in their best-of-seven series Friday night. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

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