NEW YORK (Reuters) - The wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life from the NBA over racist comments, said on Sunday she will “absolutely” battle to keep her stake in the team.
Shelly Sterling, who has co-owned the team with her husband since 1981, said in an interview with ABC News that she would fight any attempt by the league to force her to sell.
The interview comes roughly two weeks after the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, Adam Silver, fined Donald Sterling, a billionaire businessman, $2.5 million and banned him after a tape surfaced of Sterling telling a female friend not to associate with black people.
“I was shocked by what he said. And, well, I guess whatever their decision is, we have to live with it,” Shelly Sterling told ABC News. “But I don’t know why I should be punished for what his actions were.”
The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that Sterling hired a law firm to help her as the NBA moves to terminate her husband’s ownership of the team.
During the interview Sterling, who shares ownership of the Clippers through a family trust, also said she intends to divorce her estranged husband.
“For the last 20 years, I’ve been seeing attorneys for a divorce,” she told ABC News. “Eventually, I‘m going to.”
On Friday, the NBA installed former Time Warner CEO and Chairman Richard Parsons as interim chief executive of the Clippers. Parsons was appointed three days after Sterling’s longtime top lieutenant, Andy Roeser, was placed on indefinite leave as team president.
In an audio tape released by entertainment news blog Radar Online on Friday, Donald Sterling can be heard dismissing the racist remarks that set off the controversy as jealousy over other men spending time with a woman he was trying to woo.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Leslie Adler