NBA: Donald Sterling tried to pay off V. Stiviano; Shelly Sterling is not his estranged wife
The NBA has submitted its formal written case against Donald Sterling, a 30-page report, as part of the league’s attempt to force the 81-year-old to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. The documents, which contain a number of serious allegations against Sterling, were reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
One of the claims made by NBA investigator and former US attorney David Anders is that Sterling tried to pay off V. Stiviano to claim the audio recording had been altered. Sterling allegedly met with Stiviano on May 2 and offered to reimburse her for the embezzlement lawsuit his estranged wife Shelly Sterling filed against Stiviano several months ago if she said she had altered the tape.
“Mr. Sterling said that he would return the value of that payment to Ms. Stiviano through back channels,” Anders wrote in his report.
While Sterling eventually admitted it was his voice on the recording, the NBA claims he first told a league investigator he never said certain things that were featured in the recording. For example, Sterling allegedly tried to say he never asked Stiviano to stop posing for photos with black people and never told her not to bring Magic Johnson to games. The comments he later made about Magic make that harder to believe.
Perhaps more surprising is the NBA’s claim that Sterling and his wife Shelly are “not in any sense estranged.” Shelly has tried to separate herself from Donald since the audio was released by hiring a prominent divorce attorney and speaking out against the racist comments that were made. The NBA seems to think that is all a front.
Investigators stated that “significant evidence exists in the public record and otherwise that Mr. and Mrs. Sterling are not in any sense estranged.” The document said the couple attended nearly every home game this season together and were seen together in New Orleans for February’s All-Star Game.
The case also noted that the couple spent two days together immediately after the Stiviano recording went public, once emerging from a downtown restaurant where she appeared to answer “of course not” when a reporter asked if Donald Sterling was a racist.
Shelly and Donald are clearly viewed by the league as part of the same entity, and taking the team away from Donald and allowing Shelly to retain ownership is not the outcome the NBA is seeking. Sterling has until May 27 to respond to the NBA’s findings in writing.
Thanks to Deadspin for the breakdown