Timeline: Donald Sterling's Ownership of the LA Clippers

The billionaire real-estate mogul is the NBA's longest-tenured team owner

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is in hot water for allegedly making racist remarks about black people in recorded conversations posted on TMZ and Deadspin. The NBA authenticated the tapes and announced Tuesday the voice was that of Sterling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

    This isn’t the first time the billionaire real-estate mogul has been in legal trouble. A look at the 80-year-old Sterling's tenure as Clippers owner and other allegations brought against him over the years:

    Sterling Dogged by History of Troubling Remarks

    [LA] Sterling Dogged by History of Accusations of Discrimination, Troubling Remarks
    An NBC4 I-Team investigation digging deep into Clippers owner Donald Sterling's past reveals a long history of discriminatory behavior and a plenty of legal troubles. Joel Grover has the latest details of the investigation for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 28, 2014. (Published Monday, Apr 28, 2014)

    1981: Sterling purchased the San Diego Clippers for about $13 million.

    1983: Author Jeff Pearlman alleged that Paul Phipps, the Clippers general manager in 1982, told him during an interview that the prospective Clippers' coaching candidate Rollie Massimino said Sterling used "the N-word" in an impromptu interview at LAX.

    1984: Clippers leave San Diego and move north becoming the Los Angeles Clippers.

    1996: Sterling expressed difficulty remembering whether he had kissed women who worked for him, he testified during a video deposition obtained by NBC4 along with other records of sexual harassment lawsuit.

    2001: The city of Santa Monica successfully sued Sterling on charges that he allegedly harassed and threatened to evict eight tenants who were living under rent control.

    2003: The Housing Rights Center and a group of tenants who lived in Sterling’s properties filed a federal lawsuit accusing him of "numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices."

    2004: Sterling was sued by an elderly woman, Elisheba Sabi, for allegedly refusing to accept her Section 8 voucher to rent an apartment.

    2005: Sterling settled the housing discrimination lawsuit filed by the Housing Rights Center and the group of tenants who lived in his buildings. He paid nearly $5 million in legal fees for the plaintiffs and an undisclosed amount as part of the settlement.

    2006: The US Department of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination after he allegedly made statements against renting to Latino and black tenants.

    2009: He settled the discrimination lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice for nearly $3 million and avoided admission of liability.

    2009: Elgin Baylor, NBA Hall of famer who served as the general manager for the Clippers from 1986 to 2008, filed a civil lawsuit for wrongful termination against Sterling, the Clippers organization, the NBA and club president Andy Roesner. The suit accused Sterling of having a "vision of a Southern plantation type structure" for the team, with "poor black kids from the South ... playing for a white coach." Baylor also claimed that Sterling would allegedly bring women into the locker room to look at the players and once said to one of the women, "Look at those beautiful black bodies." The suit also accused the owner of allegedly having “a pervasive and ongoing racist attitude expressed toward then NBA player Danny Manning during contract negotiations.” Baylor dropped the the suit on racial discrimination in 2011.

    2011: In a March advertisement for the Clippers, Sterling said the team was honored to celebrate Black History Month. Some fans thought it showed disrespect and a lack of compassion on behalf of the owner, since Black History Month happened in February. 

    2012: Ex-Clipper Baron Davis told The New York Post that Sterling’s heckling at the games
    made him not look forward to coming to work.

    April 25, 2014: TMZ Sports reported alleged racist remarks were made by Sterling during a phone conversation with his girlfriend Vanessa Stiviano. NBC News has not been able to authenticate the audio tapes posted on TMZSports.com or the extended clips posted by Deadspin.

    April 28, 2014: NAACP announced that it would revoke Sterling’s lifetime achievement award that he would have received in May and that money donated by the embattled owner would be returned.

    April 29, 2014: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Sterling is banned for life from associating with the Clippers and the league. The league will "force a sale" of the team -- a process Silver said will start immediately. Sterling will also be fined $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowable, and the money will go to anti-discrimination organizations. Silver said the NBA's investigation confirmed the voice in the audio recording to be that of Sterling. Also, a lawyer representing Stiviano said she was "very saddened" by the sanctions against Sterling, and that she didn't release the recording of their conversation. Citing the recordings, UCLA officials rejected a $3 million donation pledge Sterling had made.

    May 1, 2014: Leon Jenkins, the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, resigned thre days after the civil rights group withdrew Sterling’s lifetime achievement award. An NBC4 I-Team investigation revealed that a $50-million promise to help the homeless in the city of Los Angeles had yet to be fulfilled by Sterling, who has been known to take out large ads in the Los Angeles Times promoting his charitable donations.

    May 2, 2014: In a televised interview with Barbara Walters, Stiviano said she's had "very many" conversations with Sterling like the one in the recording.

    May 6, 2014: Clippers President Andy Roeser stepped down amid the scandal.

    May 8, 2014: Sterling's estranged wife, Rochelle, said she would fight to keep the team in her family's hands, despite the NBA's efforts to strip her husband of his ownership. A man identified by RadarOnline.com as Sterling can be heard on a recorded phone call denying that he is a racist and expressing disbelief that "nobody tried" to get the facts behind the controversy.

    May 10, 2014: Richard Parsons, a former top executive with Time Warner and Citicorp, was appointed by the NBA as interim CEO of the Clippers.

    May 11, 2014: Sterling made his first public statements about the recordings in an interview in which he called the remarks a "terrible mistake" and asked for "forgiveness." In the same interview, he also blasted Magic Jonson, saying the Lakers great was not a good role model for children and had done nothing for black people.

    May 12, 2014: In a press conference, Parsons said he saw "tremendous opportunity" for the franchise and that his job as the Clippers's interim CEO was to make sure "the boat still floats." 

    May 13,  2014: Sterling's wife said the NBA was being sexist in its move to oust her as the Clippers' co-owner. Responding to Sterling's criticism, Johnson said he would pray for the 80-year-old billionaire, but also warned, "Sterling is not welcome back in the NBA."

    May 19, 2014: The NBA files a charge against Donald Sterling, marking the first significant step in the process to terminate his ownership. According to the NBA's statement: "Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and 'minorities.'"

    May 27, 2014: Sterling and his lawyers responded to the charges against him in a 26-page document that demands the NBA allow him to keep the team. The document called the charges "ludicrous" and said his conversation with V. Stiviano was a "lovers' tiff" that was recorded illegally and shouldn't be used against him as team owner.

    May 29, 2014: Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reaches a deal with Rochelle Sterling to buy the Clippers for a record $2 billion, the priciest aquisition in the league.

    May 30, 2014: The NBA cancels its June 3 hearing to consider Sterling's ownership amid the pending sale to Steve Ballmer. The same day, Sterling's lawyer filed an antitrust suit against the league seeking $1 billion.

    June 11, 2014: A probate court judge schedules a four-day trial for July 7 to determine whether Shelly Sterling was within her rights when she negotiated a deal with ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    July 7, 2014: Testimony begins in the legal battle over whether Shelly Sterling has authority under a family trust to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. Over the course of the trial, Donald Sterling testified that he "will be suing the NBA" until he dies, while Shelly Sterling testified that she "never, ever though this would happen."

    July 22, 2014: Richard Parsons, interim CEO for the Clippers, testifies that coach Doc Rivers told him he will quit if Donald Sterling remains owner of the team. Meanwhile, Donald Sterling filed a new lawsuit against his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress.

    July 28, 2014: judge tentatively rules against Donald Sterling and in favor of Shelly Sterling, saying she acted within her rights when negotiating a $2 billion sale of the team. The tentative ruling paves the way for the sale to move forward before NBA owners meet Aug. 15. An NBA spokesperson said the league was pleased with the ruling and looks "forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible."

    Aug. 5, 2014: Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer broke his silence Monday on his pending purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers. Ballmer said that the sale has not yet been approved by the National Basketball Association and he is waiting on the judge's final approval.

    Aug. 8, 2014: Attorneys for Donald Sterling filed a petition with a state appeals court requesting an order blocking the proposed $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling's attorneys requested an immediate stay of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas' ruling that cleared the way for Shelly Sterling to move ahead with the sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    Aug. 11, 2011: The NBA countersued former Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust on Monday, arguing the high-profile spectacle over Sterling's racist comments and the resulting sale of the team hurt the league.

    Aug. 12, 2014: The NBA issued a statement announcing the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer was complete. "The NBA Board of Governors previously approved the sale and Ballmer is now the Clippers Governor," the league said in a statement.

    Aug. 13, 2014: A California appeals court on Wednesday denied Donald Sterling's latest effort to halt the historic $2 billion sale of the LA Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The Court of Appeal rejected Sterling's petition for emergency relief to unwind the sale of the Clippers because "the sale has closed."

    Aug. 18, 2014: A rowdy Steve Ballmer took Monday's fan rally by storm when he was introduced as the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. After a tumultuous few months that saw Donald Sterling removed as owner of the Clippers, the players, fans and everyone in between finally gained legal clarity over the ownership situation. With billionaire Ballmer publicly taking the reins on Monday, the team paraded out the most recognizable and respected faces associated with the franchise.

    Aug. 19, 2014: Steve Ballmer on Tuesday left Microsoft's Board of Directors, citing new commitments. Coming off his recent acquirment of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ballmer, who handed off the reins as CEO to Nadella in February, expressed confidence in the company’s future and said he is proud that "Microsoft has been my life's work."