New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The NBA is moving forward with its plan to strip ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald Sterling, saying his conduct has damaged the league's image.
The NBA initiated a formal charge Monday seeking to end Sterling's ownership of the team he bought in 1981. The charge requires the 3/4 approval of the NBA Board of Governors.
Sterling has until May 27 to respond to the charge, per the NBA constitution, which also gives him the right to make a presentation at a special meeting of the board of governors planned for June 3.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver last month banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million over racists comments the Clippers owner made that were recorded by his girlfriend and posted online.
Silver also said April 29 he would urge the other owners to force Sterling to sell the team. The NBA says its constitution provides grounds to terminate Sterling's ownership.
Sterling has reportedly threatened to sue the NBA and said he would not pay the fine, claiming through a lawyer that he has done nothing wrong and his punishment is unwarranted.
Audio of Sterling urging his girlfriend not to bring black people to Clippers games and disparaging Magic Johnson was first published by TMZ. Deadspin.com later posted a longer clip.
The comments sent shockwaves through the league, leading to a protest from Clippers players, who dropped warmup jackets at midcourt before a playoff game and practiced with their shirts turned inside-out to hide the team's logo.
The story filled headlines and late-night monologues for days and "Saturday Night Live" opened a show with a sketch lampooning Sterling's efforts to defend himself.
The owner's comments drew rebukes from athletes and observers across the league, including from Miami Heat star LeBron James, who said there was no room for Sterling in the NBA.
Sterling told CNN's Anderson Cooper he "is not a racist" and "made a terrible, terrible mistake," but also took further shots at Johnson, saying the Hall-of- Fame former Lakers star doesn't do enough for the black community.
The league said in a statement Monday that Sterling "engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams."
His "actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA's relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA's relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders," the league said.
The NBA said Sterling "engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter."
The league has appointed former Time Warner chairman and CEO Dick Parsons interim CEO of the Clippers.