Attorney: Shelly Sterling wants to keep Clippers

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Attorney: Shelly Sterling wants to keep Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
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Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, April 21, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said April 26 that the NBA is investigating Sterling for alleged racist comments. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
AOL/Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons helps announce a new partnership to produce "Showtime at the Apollo" variety show Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2002, in New York's Harlem neighborhood. Earlier Wednesday, AOL Time Warner Inc. announced it is buying out AT&T Corp.'s stake in their cable television, moviemaking and programming partnership for an estimated $8.5 billion to $9 billion.(AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling and Rochelle Sterling, attend a game against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center on April 1, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers tosses a basketball to team owner Donald Sterling during a game against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on February 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, right, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling watches his team play in Los Angeles. A jury has returned a $17.3 million verdict against Sterling in a lawsuit by an actress who lost most of her belongings in a fire at a West Hollywood apartment building he owns. City News Service says the jury awarded $15 million in punitive damages to Robyn Cohen on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2012, in her breach-of-contract and emotional distress lawsuit. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, center, sits with his wife Rochelle during the second half of their NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 106-93. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA basketball game between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday, March 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife Rochelle during the Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010, in Los Angeles. The Pistons won 113-107.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his wife Rochelle look on during the second half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference semifinal against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, May 19, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Spurs won 96-86. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife Rochelle during the first half of the Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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BY TAMI ABDOLLAH
ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will fight to retain her 50 percent ownership stake in the team, her lawyer said Thursday, adding an unwanted twist to the NBA's plan to force new ownership on the franchise.

Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said his client "will not agree to a forced or involuntary seizure of her interest."

"As her lawyers we will fight vigorously to defend her property rights," he said.

O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling has no interest in managing the Clippers and wants a new investor group to come in with a professional management team.

O'Donnell also told The Associated Press that Shelly Sterling has been separated from her husband for the last year and is considering divorce. There is no record of legal separation documents being filed, though O'Donnell said the couple is living apart.

Shelly Sterling Fighting To Keep Clippers

Last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life and urged league owners to force him to sell the team. The move came after a recording surfaced in which Sterling made racist comments, telling friend V. Stiviano that he didn't want her to bring black people to Clippers games.

At a news conference announcing the decision, Silver said no decision had been made regarding whether Mrs. Sterling or any other Sterling family member will be allowed to retain an ownership position.

O'Donnell said he spoke with NBA officials Thursday morning but declined to elaborate. He said Mrs. Sterling has been working cooperatively with Silver and his staff and supported his announcement seeking a new chief executive officer for the team and the NBA's decision to place longtime team President Andy Roeser on leave.

O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling "abhors" her husband's comments and that "the Sterlings may share the same last name, but she does not share his values on race." The Sterlings have been married 57 years, O'Donnell said.

"We abhor guilt by association in America," O'Donnell said. "The sins of the husband cannot be imputed to the wife or children."

Shelly and Donald Sterling faced allegations that they discriminated against tenants based on race in Los Angeles according to a lawsuit filed by U.S. Department of Justice in 2006. The Sterlings, who at the time owned and managed about 119 apartment buildings or 5,000 apartments throughout Los Angeles County, agreed to settle the suit for $2.725 million.

The settlement also included two suits filed by former tenants at one of the properties, including an African-American family and an interracial married couple with biracial children, who alleged the Sterlings demolished their private yards among other actions because of their race, according to the Justice Department.

"The charges against her by former tenants are false, unfounded and were never ever determined to be valid in a court of law," O'Donnell said. He said the case was settled without any admission of liability. "She doesn't have a racist bone in her body," O'Donnell said.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Thursday at the team's training facility that "it would be a very hard situation" if Mrs. Sterling retained her portion of ownership in the team.

"I guarantee you every person wouldn't be on board with that," Rivers said. "Whether I would or not, I'm not going to say."

O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling hasn't been asked to stay away from games and will not. She is an ardent Clippers fan and plans to attend Friday night's playoff game against Oklahoma City. Rivers said "that's her choice. She can be a ticket buyer or whatever."

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star guard who was asked to serve as a spokesman for NBA players after the Sterling scandal broke, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

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AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles, and AP writers Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles and Juliet Williams in Sacramento contributed to this report.

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Tami Abdollah can be reached at HTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/LATAMS

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