Donald Sterling reportedly denies being racist in new recorded conversation
Sterling, who was banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million last week for racist remarks on a different recorded phone conversation, is heard on the new tape defiantly denying being a racist to an anonymous friend, according to Radar Online.
“You think I’m a racist?” Sterling said. “You think I have anything in the world but love for everybody? You don’t think that! You know I’m not a racist.”
In addition to Sterling's denial, he also says the NBA can't force him to sell the Clippers, explaining: “You can’t force someone to sell property in America."
Among the other notable quotes attributed to Sterling on the tape (via Radar Online):
• "It breaks my heart that Magic Johnson, a guy that I respect so much, wouldn't stand up and say, 'Well, let's get the facts. Let's get him and talk to him.' Nobody tried. Nobody!"
• “I mean, how could you think I’m a racist knowing me all these years? How can you be in this business and be a racist? Do you think I tell the coach to get white players? Or to get the best player he can get?"
SI.com's Michael McCann says the new recorded conversation could have legal ramifications if Sterling and the NBA go to court:
New recording suggests Sterling might argue he couldn't have (as required) "willfully" broken NBA rules since he didn't intend to be racist.
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) May 8, 2014
On Wednesday, Sterling's wife, Shelly, said that despite her husband's lifetime ban, she has no plans to sell the Clippers and doesn't believe the NBA's sanctions apply to "me or my family."
“I have been co-owner since 1981,” Shelly Sterling said in a prepared statement. “During those 33 years, I have been a diehard fan even when the team was in the basement of the league. Now that all of our hard work is paying off, I want to celebrate the success that we are finally achieving.”
Adding to the chaos surrounding the Clippers is the NBA’s increasingly quick action to find a new leader. Clippers president Andy Roeser took an indefinite leave of absence on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the NBA Advisory/Finance Committee on Wednesday held its second meeting to review the Clippers’ situation and help find a CEO to run the team in the interim. The committee plans to reconvene next week, according to a statement.
If Sterling or his wife is able to maintain ownership of the team, it could save her husband hundreds of millions of dollars. As McCann reported on Wednesday, Sterling faces hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gain taxes should he be forced to sell the Clippers. While there are a few bylaws that Sterling could attempt to use to avoid the taxes, it’s unlikely a ruling would come down in his favor.
Keep in mind that, as (accountant Robert) Raiola was first to note in an earlier SI.com article, if Sterling dies while owning the team, he would not have to pay capital gain taxes on the Clippers. Instead, his heirs would take Sterling’s interest in the team and not be subject to capital gain taxes in that transfer. While they may be subject to estate taxes, the heirs would only pay capital gain taxes if they sell Sterling’s interest in the team. Crucially, the gain would be the difference between the value of the team when they inherited it (perhaps $1 billion) and the value of it when sold, rather than the much larger difference between the value of the team when Sterling purchased it ($12.5 million) and the value of it when sold. Tax consequences are among many reasons why Sterling is incentivized to fight the NBA in court.
More Donald Sterling coverage
NBA world reacts to Sterling’s lifetime ban
Transcript of Silver’s press conference