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Thursday, May 22, 2014
Updated: May 23, 3:13 AM ET
Report details Sterling-Stiviano link

ESPN.com news services

In the months leading up to the release of the TMZ recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racially charged comments, the relationship between Sterling and V. Stiviano started to unravel, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday night.

According to the newspaper, Sterling's wife, Shelly, sued Stiviano in March, saying she extracted luxury cars, $240,000 in cash and the $1.8 million house from her husband. Shelly also put a lien on the house.

Donald Sterling
The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that the relationship between Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano started to crumble leading up to the release of the recordings.

Then, on April 9, Stiviano received a text message from a Clippers employee stating that the tickets, parking pass and luxury suite Sterling gave her access to were sold, according to the Times. 

In response, the newspaper reported that Stiviano said, "No tell Mr. Sterling that I don't need anything nor do I want anything...But thanks for asking. LET THE GAMES BEGAN..."

After that text message, according to the report, Stiviano sent the audio file of Sterling making racist comments to the Clippers employee, who then passed it along to team president Andy Roeser. Roeser then informed Sterling about the tape. 

According to the Times, Stiviano also decided to give copies of the recording to friends after she was served with Shelly Sterling's lawsuit while at the Staples Center. 

Stiviano has said she believes one of those friends sold the recordings to TMZ.

The NBA charged Sterling with damaging the league with his racist comments earlier this week. A hearing has been set for June 3, after which the other 29 team owners will vote to decide the future of Sterling's ownership of the Clippers.

The league also said the banned owner has engaged in other conduct that has impaired its relationship with fans and merchandising partners. The owners' vote will take place after the hearing, which will be held in New York.