Sterling willing to fight "to the bloody end": Lawyer

Donald Sterling vows to fight sale of Clipper... 02:11

LOS ANGELES -- Just when it appeared the battle over the Los Angeles Clippers was nearing its end, it isn't. Owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life for making racist comments, gave his wife permission last week to sell the team; now, Sterling has decided to fight to keep it.

"His view is that these charges are a sham, they're baseless, and he intends to vigorously defend himself," said Max Blecher, Sterling's attorney.

Max Blecher CBS News

Blecher said his client is willing to fight "to the bloody end."

"What rule did he violate? Is there a rule in the NBA that says you can't talk to your lover in her home?" Blecher asked. "It's crazy."

In a scathing 32-page letter to the NBA delivered Tuesday night, Sterling wrote, "A jealous rant to a lover never intended to be published cannot offend the NBA rules."

He called the now infamous recording of his racist remarks by his girlfriend "illegal."

Sterling's estranged wife Shelly owns 50 percent of the team and is trying to quickly sell it before the NBA takes control. The Clippers could sell for more than $1 billion. CBS News has obtained a document signed by the 80-year-old billionaire last week authorizing his wife to negotiate with the NBA regarding all issues in connection with the sale of the Clippers.

Asked why Sterling would be interested in seeking bids for a team he doesn't want to sell, Blecher said, "I think a good businessman looks at all his options and alternatives, and that's what he's doing."

"So I'm not telling you he isn't going to sell," Blecher added. "I'm telling you he's telling the world at the moment that's not his main concern. He wants to clear his name. ... You know, what we're seeing is his ego return and emerge, and it's a good thing."

But is ego a good business plan?

"Maybe not," Blecher conceded.

Shelly Sterling's lawyer told CBS News that Wednesday was the deadline for people to submit bids to buy the Clippers. If the NBA terminates the Sterlings' ownership of the team, the league gets to sell the team, but even in that case, the Sterlings would still get the money.

  • Ben Tracy

    Ben Tracy is a CBS News White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C.