NBA: If Donald Sterling is voted out, Shelly Sterling out too

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Shelly Sterling said she will fight to keep her ownership in the Clippers, but she might not have much of a fight based on the NBA Constitution.

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While Donald Sterling appears on his way out as Clippers' owner, Shelly Sterling has been adamant in keeping her stake in the team. That doesn't appear, however, to be a likely outcome based on the rules of the NBA Constitution. According to NBA rules, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated the interests of the entire ownership group are also terminated.

The league released a statement on Sunday night, detailing the rule:

"Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a 3/4 vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well. It doesn't matter whether the owners are related as is the case here. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team."

The situation may not be resolved that easily as Shelly Sterling's lawyer said they will fight that ruling, should it happen. Sterling's attorney Pierce O'Donnell called the NBA's statement a "self-serving interpretation" of the league constitution.

"We do not agree with the league's self-serving interpretation of its constitution, its application to Shelly Sterling or its validity under these unique circumstances," Sterling's lawyer Pierce O'Donnell said, via USA Today. "We live in a nation of laws. California law and the United States Constitution trump any such interpretation."

While Shelly Sterling is planning to fight the NBA if it attempts to terminate ownership, Donald Sterling apparently may not intend to do the same. In an interview with CNN, Donald Sterling said he was unsure if he would fight the league on the issue.

"If you fight with my partners, at the end of the road, what do I benefit? Especially at my age," Donald Sterling said. "If they fight with me and they spend millions and I spend millions ... let's say I win or they win, I just don't know if that's important."

If Shelly Sterling's stake in the team is terminated along with her husband's it would apparently please the players on the Clippers roster. Magic Johnson said Shelly Sterling would not be an acceptable owner and the players "are not going to play for anybody (named) Sterling."

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