Donald Sterling Refuses to Pay Fine, Threatens to Sue NBA, Sources Say

In an about-face, lawyer said owner's racist tirade did not warrant punishment.

May 16, 2014, 12:24 AM

May 16, 2014 — -- As the Los Angeles Clippers today cleaned out their lockers after being ousted from the NBA playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder, embattled owner Donald Sterling threatened to sue the league to keep his team, according to reports.

Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by commissioner Adam Silver after an audio recording of him making racist comments was posted online in April.

“I think I’m prepared for somewhat of a messy summer, mentally at least,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said during a postgame news conference. “I just think it’s going that way. I have a ton of faith in our league that we’ll try to get it straight, but we’ll see.”

Sterling's new lawyer, antitrust litigator Max Blecher, reportedly fired off a letter to the NBA, saying -- according to -- "we reject your demand for payment" of the league's $2.5 million fine.

The lawyer added that "no punishment is warranted" for Sterling's racist tirade directed toward confidante V. Stiviano.

Related: V. Stiviano says Donald Sterling should apologize but is not a racist.

The lawyer also said the controversy "will be adjudicated."

The defiance seemed to be a flip-flop for Sterling, who in a CNN interview this week with Anderson Cooper, said he'd abide by whatever the NBA owners decided.

"I love them and I respect them and whatever their decision is with regard to the disposition of my terrible words then I have to do it, I think," Sterling told Cooper in an interview Monday. "The players don't hate me. The sponsors don't hate me. The fans don't hate me. The media hates -- it's all the media."

There was no comment from the NBA today regarding Sterling's broadside but ESPN’S Chris Broussard, an NBA analyst, told ABC News the league was prepared for a long battle.

"The league is not surprised that Donald Sterling may this step [filing a lawsuit,]" Broussard said. "He hasn't filed a lawsuit yet. They're not going to be surprised if he does. ... Obviously they want to get this thing done as soon as possible. I'm being told there's really no way they see a settlement or anything like that, that will allow Donald Sterling to remain as an owner of an NBA team."

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