Sterling to fight Clippers sale, proceed with $1B lawsuit against NBA
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 2307 GMT (0707 HKT)
- From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers," Sterling writes
- Earlier, Sterling had agreed to the sale of the Clippers to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
- NBA commissioner: "He's unsold his club several times over the years"
- Sterling has filed a $1B suit against the NBA because it banned him for life and forced him to sell
(CNN) -- The deal is off. The suit is on.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is withdrawing his support for the sale of his team and is asking his lawyer to go ahead with a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA.
"From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I have worked for 33 years to build the Team," Sterling said in a statement, forwarded to CNN by his lawyer Max Blecher.
Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced he will sell the team in light of an offensive email he sent. Levenson is not the first sports team owner to face the consequences of his actions:
Team owners behaving badly
After a recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks was released in April 2014, he was fined and banned from NBA games for life. But he's not the only well-known figure who has served as a lighting rod for discussion on race and identity.
In the news: A conversation about race
NBA commissioner talks candidly to CNN
Sterling lawyer: NBA missed opportunity
Lawyer: Taking Sterling's wife to court
Referring to NBA commissioner, Sterling added, "I believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers, banning me for life from the NBA and imposing the fine. ... The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans."
It's exactly the kind of move that made Silver wary of the litigious Sterling.
"He's unsold his club several times over the years," Silver told CNN's Rachel Nichols in an exclusive interview this week.
"There's well-noted incidents in the league when he was right there at a closing and at the last minute decided not to sell."
Sterling, 80, has been embroiled in controversy since a recording of a conversation with friend V. Stiviano revealed he made a series of racist comments.
The comments sparked outrage among NBA players, executives and fans. The commissioner fined Sterling $2.5 million and pushed to terminate all of his ownership rights in the franchise.
"To be clear, I am extremely sorry for the hurtful statements I made privately," Sterling said in his statement. "I made those statements in anger and out of jealousy all in the context of a private conversation. While this is not an excuse for the statements, like every other American, I never imagined that my private conversation would be made public."
Back and forth
Sterling has seemingly changed his mind multiple times about what he wants to happen to the team.
In late May, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laid down a $2 billion offer to buy the Clippers. Sterling's estranged wife and co-owner of team, Shelly, agreed to sell the franchise to Ballmer.
Sterling initially indicated he would fight that sale. He also filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA for its decision to ban him for life and force him to sell the franchise.
But his attorneys said last week that Sterling supported the team's sale to Ballmer. The attorneys said last Wednesday that the lawsuit had yet to be withdrawn, but said that would likely happen in the coming days.
Now, it appears, the Sterling's fight is back on.
Steve Ballmer: From screaming Microsoft exec to LA Clippers owner?
CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian, Dave Alsup, Brian Todd and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report
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