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In recording said to be of Clippers' Sterling, racist claim denied

By Jason Hanna and Steve Almasy, CNN
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 0247 GMT (1047 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Shelly Sterling's attorney says she wants investment group to buy half of the team
  • NEW: Pierce O'Donnell says Shelly Sterling has no racist feelings
  • RadarOnline.com releases audio of man it says is Clippers owner Donald Sterling
  • Man on recording denies he's a racist

(CNN) -- If the latest audio recording attributed to Donald Sterling is the real deal, the L.A. Clippers owner is denying he's a racist -- and doesn't appear ready to submit to demands to sell the team.

"You think I'm a racist?" a man purported to be Sterling says in a recording posted Thursday morning by RadarOnline.com. "You think I have anything in the world but love for everybody? You don't think that. You know I'm not a racist."

CNN cannot independently confirm that the speaker is Sterling.

Sterling has been banned for life from the team's day-to-day operations and facilities and was fined $2.5 million last week for racist comments that were recorded and posted online late last month.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has asked the other 29 NBA owners to force Sterling, the longest-tenured owner in the league, to sell the Clippers.

In the tape posted Thursday, a second man says "they're trying to force you to sell."

"You can't force someone to sell property in America," responds the man who RadarOnline.com says is Sterling. "Well, I'm a lawyer, that's my opinion."

RadarOnline.com's post doesn't say when the recording was made or identify the second man heard in it.

Sterling, a lawyer and billionaire real-estate investor, has not issued a public statement since the celebrity gossip website TMZ posted a 10-minute audio recording in which he chastises V. Stiviano for posting pictures on Instagram in which she poses with African-Americans, including basketball Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Sterling made the comments during an argument he had with Stiviano on April 9, according to TMZ.

"In your lousy f**ing Instagrams, you don't have to have yourself with -- walking with black people," he says.

"If it's white people, it's OK?" she responds. "If it was Larry Bird, would it make a difference?"

The matter of the team's sale is with the NBA's Advisory/Finance Committee, which met Wednesday on a conference call. Members discussed the "termination of Mr. Sterling's ownership of the team," the NBA said in a news release. The committee will meet again next week, the statement said.

If the case proceeds to a full vote, 75% of the owners would have to approve the forced sale.

Wife wants to retain her ownership share

However, Pierce O'Donnell, attorney for Donald Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, told CNN that she wants to keep her 50% stake in the team and they have been talking by phone with NBA officials. She wants to bring in an investment group to buy her husband's half of the franchise.

"She would not be in a managing position, but she would be a co-owner," O'Donnell said, adding they plan to meet in person with league officials soon.

Technically the team is now owned by the Sterling family's trust, with Donald and Shelly Sterling serving as co-trustees. Their two children are named as beneficiaries.

During his news conference announcing Donald Sterling's lifetime ban, Silver was asked if there would be sanctions against Shelly Sterling.

"No, there have been no decisions about other members of the Sterling family, and I should say that this ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling's conduct only," Silver said.

Shelly Sterling hasn't done anything wrong, O'Donnell said.

"The truth of the matter is that Mrs. Sterling has denounced in the strongest terms possible her husband's racist comments," he told CNN. "Totally disassociated."

The Sterlings have not lived together for more than a year. Shelly Sterling is "weighing her options" as to whether she wants a divorce, O'Donnell said.

He also said she categorically denied making any racist statements as alleged in court documents filed when the couple was sued for discrimination at their apartment buildings. Those cases were settled out of court.

"Mrs. Sterling is a wonderful woman and doesn't have any racial animus," he said.

While her husband is banned from NBA arenas, Shelly Sterling has attended some of the Clippers playoff games since the scandal unfolded.

CNN's Stephanie Elam, Ray Sanchez and Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

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