Report: NBA alleges Sterling, wife, Clippers president tried to cover up scandal

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling puts his hand over his face as he sits courtside with his wife Shelly while the Clippers trail the Chicago Bulls in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles in this Dec. 30, 2011, file photo. DANNY MOLOSHOK, REUTERS

Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attempted to persuade V. Stiviano to say he was not responsible for the racist comments that surfaced on an audio recording, according to the NBA's formal charges, obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reports that in the 30-page allegation, the NBA alleges that Sterling's wife, Shelly, and Clippers President Andy Roeser tried to assist the 80-year-old in his bid to avoid responsibility for the recording which has prompted the NBA to ban Sterling for life and try to force him to sell the team.

The league charged Sterling on Monday with damaging the league and its marketing partners, and is planning a June 3 hearing after which owners could vote to force him to sell the franchise he has owned since 1981. It also said Sterling made a false and misleading media statement about the matter.

Apparently he did the same to NBA investigators.

According to the Times, the NBA accused Sterling and members of the Clippers organization of "destroying evidence relating to the recording, providing false and misleading information to [Chief NBA Investigator David] Anders in connection with the commissioner's investigation of the recording and issuing a false and misleading public statement on April 26 regarding the authenticity of the TMZ recording."

The Times reports that Stiviano told Anders that on May 2, Sterling asked her to tell the NBA that she lied about her previous statements and that she had altered Sterling's voice on the audio recording.

The newspaper also reports that the team's president, Andy Roeser, was among members of the Clippers organization who knew about the recording before it went public. The NBA alleged that Sterling told Roeser to instruct an employee to delete the recording from a phone with related text messages.

On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers is an "unprecedented proceeding" that is worth any obstacles that may arise.

Silver said that the NBA is "pursuing the right course here and doing the right thing" in trying to end Sterling's ownership following his racist comments.

Silver contrasted Kevin Durant's emotional speech after winning this year's MVP award with Donald Sterling's racist remarks, adding he believes the league is right in trying to force Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

"I think Kevin Durant as our Most Valuable Player embodies what this league is all about, and frankly Mr. Sterling doesn't," Silver said Tuesday before the draft lottery.

Silver already banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million, but wants owners to force the sale, even though he realizes there may be obstacles.

"This is an unprecedented proceeding. Will there be bumps in the road? Presumably yes," Silver said. "Mr. Sterling, on one hand, at least in his CNN interview, indicated a willingness to accept the judgment of his owner partners. His lawyers are saying otherwise, so we'll see.

"But this will all get worked out. I know we're pursuing the right course here and doing the right thing."

Silver said Sterling's remarks, which were recorded and surfaced on TMZ's website late last month early in playoffs, caused anger and sadness in a league in which most players are black.

Silver acted quickly with his punishment of Sterling and owners have followed, the 10-member advisory/finance committee meeting weekly since.

Sterling has until next Tuesday to respond and can appear at the hearing in New York front of owners. It will take three-quarters of them to terminate Sterling's ownership, and the league says also that of his estranged wife, Shelly.

Donald Sterling's attorney asked for a three-month delay, which the league rejected. Shelly Sterling's lawyer has said she is entitled to keep her 50 percent of the franchise even if her husband has to surrender his, so one or more legal fights could be necessary.

Silver said he would prefer if Donald Sterling chose to sell the team on his own, but the process to take it is already well underway.

"At least within the boundaries of my authority, I feel an obligation to protect the people who are within this league, and so that's my reaction," Silver said.

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