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Banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling won't pay the $2.5 million fine levied by the NBA, Sterling's attorney wrote in a letter to the league, a person with firsthand knowledge of the letter told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the letter, which was sent Thursday.

The attorney, Maxwell M. Blecher, also wrote that Sterling doesn't warrant any punishment at all for his racist comments that were recorded in a conversation with a female friend and made public.

Blecher, a well-known antitrust attorney, also contends the fine violates Sterling's due process rights.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on April 29 fined Sterling $2.5million and issued him a lifetime ban. Silver also said he would urge other owners to force a sale of the Clippers and do everything in his power to ensure that.

The letter was in direct response to the fine and the lifetime ban.

It is not a surprise Sterling's attorney threatened a legal battle. Sterling is well known for litigious tactics, and the league had been expecting Sterling to fight.

Blecher is one of Sterling's longtime lawyers and represented Sterling in 1982 when the Clippers were planning to move from San Diego to Los Angeles. Sterling moved the Clippers in 1984, and the NBA fined him $25 million. He sued the league for $100million but dropped the suit when the NBA reduced his fine to $6 million.

Silver banned Sterling for life from any association with the league or the Clippers and fined him the maximum allowable under the NBA constitution. If three-fourths of the other 29 owners agree to Silver's recommendation, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.

After the ruling, players, fellow owners and civil rights leaders applauded Silver. Union representatives had discussed a boycott of playoff games had Silver not delivered such a strong ruling.


May 16, 2014


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