LOS ANGELES — The NBA is moving in on the Los Angeles Clippers.
In the wake of the racially charged comments from team owner Donald Sterling that led to the ruling from Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday that he be removed, NBA spokesman Mike Bass announced Saturday that the league will now begin a search for a new Clippers CEO. What's more, Silver has the support of Sterling's wife, Shelly, who is a co-owner of the team.
"I spoke with Commissioner Adam Silver this week to tell him that I fully supported his recent swift and decisive action," Shelly Sterling said in a statement released Saturday evening. "We also agreed at that time that, as a next step, both the league and the team should work together to find some fresh, accomplished executive leadership for the Clippers. I welcome his active involvement in the search for a person of the utmost character, proven excellence and a commitment to promoting equality and inclusiveness.
"As a co-owner, I am fully committed to taking the necessary steps to make the Clippers the best team in the NBA. That has been my aspiration ever since 1981."
While longtime team President Andy Roeser is expected to be retained for now, the CEO would oversee the entire operation.
"The best way to ensure the stability of the team during this difficult situation is to move quickly and install a CEO to oversee the Clippers organization," Bass said in a news release announcing the decision. "The process of identifying that individual is underway."
Donald Sterling, the 80-year-old who has long been known as one of the most litigious people on the planet, is widely expected to fight the ruling in court. But the NBA —which isn't referred to by insiders as "Nothing But Attorneys" for nothing — is clearly not waiting for resolution on the legal front before attempting to fix this franchise.
There is plenty of precedent here when it comes to the league becoming more involved with one of its own. Most recently, former commissioner David Stern disapatched staff members to Sacramento and was extremely influential in the arena controversy and eventual transfer of ownership from the Maloof family to the group led by Vivek Ranadive in May 2013. When the New Orleans Hornets reached the bottom of their business barrell in late 2010, the NBA purchased the team from then-owner George Shinn and oversaw all operations until the team was sold to Tom Benson in April 2012.