Hoping to gain ammunition for a possible legal battle against the NBA, embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling hired four private investigating firms to "dig up dirt on fellow NBA owners -- including any racist comments they may have made in the past," reports the New York Post.
The NBA is currently trying to remove Sterling from the league for a series of recordings including offensive, racist comments by the Clippers owner. His wife, Shelly, has already agreed to sell the team to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record-breaking $2 million, but Sterling continues to give mixed messages on his intentions regarding the sale.
While he could simply let the team go, rake in the billions and move on with the rest of his life, Sterling doesn't appear willing to make things that easy. Instead, he's decided to sue the league in federal court for $1 billion, and as a part of that, appears to be hoping to uncover some misbehavior by another owner that would make the league's punishments, including attempts to remove him from ownership, look unreasonable or unfair.
"Investigators were given a six-figure budget over the next 30 days to examine his peers’ record on race, including any off-color jokes, or biased or sexist remarks," the Post writes.
Sterling probate showdown set for July 7
The hearing to determine if Shelly Sterling had the authority to sell the Clippers acting as sole trustee of the trust that owns the team has been set for July 7 -- several days into the crucial NBA free agency period.
Sterling also asked them to "probe the league’s finances, allegations of previous discriminatory conduct and compensation to past Commissioner David Stern and current Commissioner Adam Silver." In other words, he's leaving no stone unturned in his attempts to find anything that will undermine the NBA's arguments in court.
It's probably not what we wanted to hear concerning Sterling's plans, but this is certainly the Clippers owner we've come to know and deeply dislike in the past few decades. Bowing out without a legal battle would have been uncharacteristic for a man who's openly and aggressively fought housing discrimination charges in the past.
What the investigators will actually uncover about these owners, most of whom are already extremely wealth public figures under media spotlights, is unclear, but it's a peculiar move by Sterling nonetheless. Rather than defend himself, attempting to smear the reputations of other owners seems to be Sterling's new goal.
If they find anything, we'll definitely be hearing about it at some point, whether it's in court or in the news.