Donald Sterling's estranged wife has moved quickly to position herself as a victim, and sat down with Barbara Walters for a soft-focus interview in which she announced her intention to hang on to her portion of the Clippers—and, if she gets her way, her husband's portion too.
"I will fight that decision," Shelly Sterling said. "I'm wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there's 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?"
Sterling announced her intentions to divorce her husband, who she says she believes is suffering from the onset of dementia, but first, "would love him to" consider transferring his stake in the Clippers to her, making her the full owner.
It should be noted that Shelly Sterling was a co-defendant in many of the housing discrimination suits brought against her husband, including one from the Justice Department that resulted in the single largest settlement ever obtained. Testimony accused Shelly Sterling of making racist comments, including, according to one witness, saying "I can't remodel my apartments the way that I want because Latinos are so filthy." There is also video of her posing as a health inspector to gain illegal access to apartments.
"We don't feel like no one in [Sterling's] family should be able to own the team," LeBron James said yesterday, and the league agrees. The NBA released this statement, indicating that Shelly Sterling has no recourse to keep her portion of the franchise:
"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."
I don't know what the end result of all this will be, but I do know how it'll be reached: Through multiple, protracted court battles. The NBA knew this would be a long and ugly process, which makes its decision to go through with it all the more impressive.