Reports: Sterling to allow wife to sell Clippers

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Updated: 5/23 8:28 pm

(SportsNetwork.com) - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling may go down without a fight after all.

Earlier this week, the NBA initiated a formal charge to end Sterling's ownership of the team he bought in 1981 and reports Friday indicate that the embattled owner will allow his wife, Shelly, to negotiate a sale.

ESPN said Shelly Sterling and her lawyers have already begun talks with the NBA about a sale, and celebrity gossip website TMZ.com cited sources as saying Donald Sterling made the decision because he believes the NBA will eventually force him to sell.

Sterling has until May 27 to respond to the charge. Under the NBA constitution, he also has the right to make a presentation at a special meeting of the Board of Governors planned for June 3.

In a statement released through league spokesman Mike Bass, the NBA affirmed its intention to proceed with its course of action in spite of the reports.

"We continue to follow the process set forth in the NBA Constitution regarding termination of the current ownership interests in the Los Angeles Clippers and are proceeding toward a hearing on this matter on June 3," Bass stated.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver last month banned Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million over racist 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 had 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 African-Americans 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.

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 Clippers lost to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals.

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