First Chaos, Then Clarity

"I'm going to be real: We've been here for, what, three years? I haven't talked to Donald Sterling once. Not one time," C.J. Paul said. "When Chris got traded here, we didn't come here for Donald Sterling. We came to win a championship for Los Angeles."

The call

Roeser called Sterling to tell him Silver was banning him from the NBA for life. It was a short call.

Roeser and Shelly Sterling are the two alternate governors for the Clippers, and for the time being Roeser will run the day-to-day operations of the team. But the NBA will act swiftly, likely appointing a trustee to oversee the team and moving to force a sale quickly. Those who know Sterling expect him to fight in court.

"Knowing him, I would think the first thing is, 'How do I fight it? What is the legal strategy here?'" said Steve Soboroff, a civic leader, a longtime Clippers season-ticket holder and the driving force behind the building of Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"Sterling has never sold anything. I don't even think he sells his used cars. So this is against his nature. But I believe the way they set it up, so strongly, that he can't even make decisions having to do with money, having to do with the team, that he cannot continue to own it and eventually he'll see that.

"When he sees that, that he is banned, he'll realize the sooner he gets rid of it, the better it will be for him. And that's what he's always concerned about."

Sterling was at his home in Beverly Hills when Roeser called Tuesday morning. He owns two mansions in Los Angeles. The other is in Malibu, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Sterling's parties are legendary in Los Angeles. Every September he throws a "White Party" at the house in Malibu. Guests are told to wear white -- a fashion faux pas after Labor Day. Sterling is the only one in black. He hires gorgeous hostesses to entertain and serve at these parties. He tells his players to attend, as well, so his guests can meet them and take pictures. As always, they are part of the entertainment provided by the gracious host. He liked to be called Mr. Sterling. Loved to be the center of attention.

But when the end came for Donald Sterling, he was alone. There was no party. There were no guests. There was only a phone call and the guy he had paid for 30 years to serve him saying he'd been kicked out of the league.

"It's hard to have a moral compass as an owner," said a longtime Clippers employee. "There's no one there to check you except the other owners."

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