LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NBA said Saturday it will appoint a chief executive officer to supervise the Los Angeles Clippers’ operations after banning owner Donald Sterling from the league for life.
The league announced its decision a few hours before the Clippers faced the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.
The Clippers won the game 126-121 and advanced to the second round where they will face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for racist comments made on an audio recording, fined him $2.5 million and urged league owners to force him to sell the team.
“The best way to ensure the stability of the team during this difficult situation is to move quickly and install a CEO to oversee the Clippers organization,” Mike Bass, the NBA executive vice president of communications, said in a statement. “The process of identifying that individual is underway.”
The decision was welcomed by Sterling’s long-estranged wife, Rochelle, who said she was fully committed to making the Clippers the best team in the NBA.
“I spoke with Commissioner Adam Silver this week to tell him that I fully supported his recent swift and decisive action,” said Rochelle Sterling, who watched Game 7 from a VIP box in the Staples Center.
“We also agreed at that time that, as a next step, both the league and the team should work together to find some fresh, accomplished executive leadership for the Clippers. I welcome his active involvement in the search for a person of the utmost character, proven excellence and a commitment to promoting equality and inclusiveness.”
A forced sale would require approval of three-fourths of the league’s owners. The NBA’s 10-member finance/advisory committee held a conference call Thursday, agreeing to move forward quickly on the potential sale.
Sterling hasn’t said whether he will fight the league in court.
Clippers President Andy Roeser has been the franchise’s most prominent executive in recent years, but Roeser upset many team employees last weekend when he released a statement questioning whether the incriminating recordings of Sterling were legitimate. Roeser’s statement seemed too sympathetic to Sterling for many outraged employees, with apologetic words about the 80-year-old owner alongside criticism of V. Stiviano, the other voice on the recordings.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers spent Friday morning speaking with upset employees who felt further betrayed by Roeser’s statement. Rivers also serves as the Clippers’ senior vice president of basketball operations.