- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Thursday that "it would be a very hard situation'' if Shelly Sterling, the wife of deposed owner Donald Sterling, remained as owner of the team as she has publicly expressed a desire to do in the wake of the scandal around her estranged husband's racist comments that were published by TMZ.
"I don't even want to comment on it because I don't know yet," Rivers said. "I think it would be a very hard situation, I'll say that much. I think it would be very difficult. I guarantee you every person wouldn't be on board with it. Whether I would or not, I'm not going to say, I just know that would be a very difficult situation for everybody."
Asked to elaborate why it would be so difficult, Rivers, who is consulting with the NBA in its search for a new CEO of the franchise, said that "because of the relationship" she's had with her husband it would be difficult for her to continue on as owner "because we wouldn't know who was really in charge."
Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said Thursday that his client intended to fight to retain her ownership stake in the Clippers. She has been a co-owner and alternate governor of the franchise, which is owned by a family trust, since 1981.
"Despite all of the furor during the past week, Mrs. Sterling still has property rights," O'Donnell said. "She has worked tirelessly over the years to build up a franchise that was once a cellar dweller into a sports powerhouse. She has the same right as anyone else in America to enjoy and control the fruits of those labors, and that includes deciding whether to keep or sell her 50 percent interest in the team."
O'Donnell stressed that Shelly Sterling "abhors" her estranged husband's views on race, and has supported the NBA's decision to ban him for life. He also noted that the allegations against Shelly Sterling, who was named as a defendant in previous housing discrimination lawsuits against her husband's companies, came from testimony in cases that were settled -- which is not an admission of guilt.
"They may share the same last name," O'Donnell said. "But they don't share the same values on race."
Rivers noted that "I don't know what she's done wrong" but said that his concern right now had to be with preparing the team for its second-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers host Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Friday night.
Rivers said he has not been in communication with Shelly Sterling since the scandal first broke during their first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.
"It's nothing personal. It's just there's only a certain number of calls that you can take, and I decided that I'm going to take employees calls, management calls, and player calls," he said. "After that, I'm not taking any more calls. It's not personal. I've got to do my job and I made that decision about a week ago, and I said I'm shutting off everything else."
Rivers wouldn't say whether he thought it was appropriate for Shelly Sterling to attend the team's games during the rest of the playoffs.
"I don't know the answer to that. There's no playbook," he said. "What's appropriate is what everyone thinks is appropriate. It's not what I think or not, it's what the masses think it is. And that doesn't mean the masses are right. If we've learned anything, the masses can be wrong, too.
"So who knows what's right? We do what's wrong in this. We don't know what's right. I think we just have to keep finding out the more rights are better and let's try to do right, all of us. Not just Shelly or me or the team, but everyone."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week that no decisions had been made regarding members of the Sterling family other than Donald Sterling.
"There have been no decisions about other members of the Sterling family," he said. "And I should say that this ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling's conduct only."
ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reported Tuesday that the NBA believes it has the legal grounds to force Donald Sterling to sell the team because he has signed numerous contracts with the league agreeing that an owner will not take any position or action that will materially and adversely affect a team or the league. Owners also sign morals clauses, which state they will be held to the highest standards of ethical and moral behavior.
The NBA will maintain that Sterling violated those contracts should he choose to fight the league's plan to force him to sell. The league must get 75 percent of owners to agree to make the move.
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Thursday at the team's training facility that ``it would be a very hard situation'' if Shelly Sterling, the wife of Donald Sterling, retained her portion of ownership in the team.