The NBA's ban of Donald Sterling apparently will not go without a fight as the embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner has informed league officials he won't pay the $2.5 million fine levied against him by commissioner Adam Silver, reports Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated.
Sterling recently hired Maxwell Blecher, a prominent antitrust lawyer, who wrote a letter to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan saying he would refuse the current sanctions as his client does not warrant "any punishment at all."
Buchanan sent a letter to Sterling on May 14 telling the Clippers owner to pay the $2.5 million fine announced by Silver last month. At that time, the league also announced that it would attempt to remove Sterling from ownership following the release of tapes containing audio of Sterling making offensive, racist remarks to his girlfriend.
McCann says Blecher also wrote that the NBA violated Sterling's right to due process, given he was banished from the league just four days after the initial reports from TMZ. However, that may be problematic for Sterling given the "NBA is a private association and is not required to provide due process rights."
With the letter, it seems highly likely Sterling's next step will be to file a lawsuit against the NBA, which could lead to a potentially long, complicated and expensive legal process. Still, it may be the league's only way to find the Clippers a new owner soon, and given the pressure on the league, don't be surprised if that's how it pans out.