Reports: Donald Sterling hires firms to investigate NBA owners, commissioners
(CNN) — Donald Sterling is launching a full-court press against the NBA.
The embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner has hired firms to investigate the NBA’s 29 other owners and its former and current commissioners, sources told The Associated Press and NBC.
Investigators will look into any accusation of discrimination against the league, and finances and compensation paid to Commissioner Adam Silver and his predecessor, David Stern, a source told the AP.
Sterling will spare no expense and has set aside a six-figure budget for the investigators, according to the AP.
The investigators will also try to dig up instances where league owners made questionable remarks, including anything that would be considered sexist or racist, the AP source said.
The AP described its source as a person familiar with Sterling’s legal strategy. It said the source is not authorized to speak publicly and did not want to be identified.
CNN cannot independently confirm the reports. It has reached out to Sterling’s legal team but has not heard back.
This week, Sterling lashed out at the NBA, saying it has been sued many times for discrimination. He accused Silver and the league’s owners of focusing on him to “draw attention away from their own discriminatory and repulsive conduct.”
Other legal disputes
Sterling’s investigators will also review previous league disputes that bring to light any alleged discriminatory practices, according to NBC. It said those disputes are currently sealed.
The action is the latest twist in a case that started in April, when a recording emerged in which Sterling made racist comments that became publicized.
Backlash ensued, and Silver fined him $2.5 million and banned him from the league for life.
Sterling, 80, sued the NBA for $1 billion, saying he does not want to sell the team as the league demands. He called the league “despicable monsters” and “a band of hypocrites and bullies.”
Wife reaches deal
His wife and Clippers co-owner, Shelly Sterling, has reached an agreement to sell the franchise for a record $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
She’s asked a Los Angeles probate court to uphold her negotiated sale of the team despite her husband’s objections.
The probate court will hold a four-day hearing next month that will focus on whether she has the power to sell the team if her co-owner is incapacitated. The AP source said the probate court decision prompted Sterling to hire the investigators.
“It’s unfortunate. Mrs. Sterling regrets having to go to court and publicly air this problem,” said her attorney, Pierce O’Donnell. “But Mr. Sterling’s conduct in reneging on the sale requires her to do so.”
Though the Clippers are owned by a family trust, Shelly Sterling’s attorney has said three physicians certified that Donald Sterling lacks the mental capacity to function as a trustee.
“The trust agreement provides that if two qualified physicians certify that he’s mentally incapacitated, he’s removed,” O’Donnell said.
Though she said three doctors have reviewed evidence and concluded that Donald Sterling is mentally incapacitated, his lawyer has said he is far from incapacitated.
Donald Sterling’s lawsuit says the NBA has no right to force such a sale, and the league was wrong in banning him for life and fining him.
It also states that he did not violate the NBA’s constitution and that the recording that led to his downfall is against California law.