The NBA has issued a formal charge seeking to terminate Donald Sterling's ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, the league announced on Monday. If the NBA Board of Governors approves the charge by a 3/4 majority, Sterling will forfeit his control and the team will be sold to new owners, pending any legal action Sterling takes against the league.
The vote is scheduled to take place on June 3. Sterling has until May 27 to respond to the charge.
We knew the league was planning this move, but this is the first formal step taken in extracting the banned owner from the league.
Under Article 13 of the NBA constitution, the Board of Governors has a right to strip an owner of his team if it's found that the owner was operating his franchise in a way that is harmful to league interests. In a release, the league claimed Sterling's racist remarks and the impending controversy had indeed been harmful.
Mr. Sterling's acitons and positions significantly undermine the NBA's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA's relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA's relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders.
The league believes it has strong ground to stand on given that corporate sponsors bailed on the Clippers and that players and fans threatened to boycott playoff games. The issue, as SB Nation's K.B. Blinn explained, is that Article 13 "applies more as a remedy for rather than a preemptive strike against a team's financial problems." Given that the Clippers currently have no financial worries, the league may have trouble holding their decision up in court.
Sterling informed the league last week that he will fight the $2.5 million fine in court, and it's likely he'll do the same if the owners vote to forcibly end his ownership of the team.