NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Sterling and the NBA are headed toward a hearing that will determine if he remains owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Unless Shelly Sterling finds a buyer for the team first.
The Sterlings were part combative, part cooperative Tuesday, with Donald Sterling fighting to keep his team even as his estranged wife said he had authorized her to sell it.
He didn't seem willing to give it up — at least not without a fight — in his passionate response to the league's attempt to oust him.
"We do not believe a court in the United States of America will enforce the draconian penalties imposed on Mr. Sterling in these circumstances, and indeed, we believe that preservation of Mr. Sterling's constitutional rights requires that these sham proceedings be terminated in Mr. Sterling's favor," the response said.
Sterling's response to the league's charge that he damaged it and its merchandising partners with his racist comments was delivered before Tuesday's deadline.
He argued that there is no basis for stripping him of his team because his statements were illegally recorded "during an inflamed lovers' quarrel in which he was clearly distraught."
According to the response, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, Sterling says V. Stiviano recorded him without his knowledge and thus the recording was illegal under California law. He also said he could not have "willfully" damaged the league because he did not know it would be made public.
"A jealous rant to a lover never intended to be published cannot offend the NBA rules," Sterling said in the document, which was first reported by USA Today.