Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who received a lifetime ban from the NBA by commissioner Adam Silver, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that he may accept the judgment his fellow owners render with regard to forcing the sale of his team.
"People want me to hire a wall of lawyers and [the NBA] to have to hire a wall of lawyers and go to war," Sterling said. "I don't think that's the answer.
"I think the answer is, the league is a good league, all honest people. And I think that whatever they decide that has to be done, I think I should work with them and do it."
However, when Cooper asked Sterling if he was willing to give up ownership of the Clippers, Sterling dismissed the idea in saying he did not believe that the league and its owners wanted that outcome.
"I'm a good owner," Sterling said. "I have a good team. There are people that want to buy my team, but because the media says that the owner want me out doesn't mean that they want me out."
Sterling specifically stated that he did not think the other owners would vote for his removal and noted that other owners have privately supported him, even if they "can't understand" why he would make the remarks documented on the tape, initially released by TMZ, that instigated this entire saga. Cooper extended the line of questioning as to what Sterling would do in the case that the owners did vote for his removal, despite his belief that they -- his "partners" -- would not. At first Sterling wondered aloud why he would address that hypothetical, though he eventually said he would defer to the decision of his fellow owners.
"I love them and I respect them," Sterling said. "And whatever their decision is with regard to the disposition of my terrible words, then I have to do it, I think."
In order to remove Sterling as owner of the Clippers, 3/4ths of the NBA's other owners would need to vote in favor of that outcome. The league insists it is moving as quickly as possible to lay the formal groundwork for such a vote, and already the NBA's advisory/finance committee (a group consisting of 10 owners) decided in a unanimous decision to pursue the process of Sterling's termination as owner of the Clippers. Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé is on the record as saying that he expects the same, unequivocal stance when Sterling's removal is put to a formal vote.
"The owners I know are all color blind and they found that this behavior was outrageous," Ranadive said on Good Morning America two weeks ago. "So I would be surprised if it isn't a unanimous vote."
Regardless of Sterling's comments on Monday, the NBA -- as reported by SI.com's Michael McCann earlier this week -- does not believe that Sterling will go quietly into the night without some kind of legal challenge:
The NBA, sources say, is "gearing up" for Donald Sterling to file a lawsuit against the league and other owners. The league takes notice to the fact that Sterling has been meeting with prominent law firms. By doing so, Sterling apparently hopes to communicate to the NBA—and his fellow owners—that he will not go down without a fight. The NBA is also aware of the substantial tax benefits Sterling would obtain if he holds onto the team and avoids capital gain taxes (benefits first raised by Robert Raiola, senior manager in the Sports & Entertainment Group of the accounting firm O'Connor Davies, LLP, for SI.com).