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What Are The Next Steps In The Donald Sterling Saga?

By: CBS
By: CBS

The NBA is taking its next step in removing Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

A committee of 10 NBA team owners are holding a meeting Thursday. It will discuss Sterling's future, after he was banned for life from the league for making racist comments.

The conference call is the first meeting of owners since NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the ban on Tuesday.

Now comes the hard question: can Silver and the owners force Sterling out?

LeBron James has said, "No matter how long it takes, no matter how much money it costs, we need to get him out of here."

James, the NBA's reigning MVP, called on the league's owners to move quickly to force out Sterling.

"The next step is, is to get the owners to vote and to get him to sell the franchise."

And that's what Silver plans to do. He said in a press conference this week that the owners "have the authority subject to three-quarters vote to remove him as an owner."

That's 23 of the 30 teams in the NBA. When asked anonymously, 16 owners told the Associated Press they would vote in favor of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers. Eight declined to reveal their position.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted after the league's announcement that he agreed 100 percent with Silver's findings and actions. But on Monday, he expressed concerns about setting a precedent

"I think it's a slippery slope when you start trying to remove people from the NBA or any organization based off of their private thoughts that they have at home," he said.

The league's bylaws spell out exactly what will happen if Sterling's ownership rights are terminated: the commissioner will take control of the clippers, set a price and put the team up for sale. But one long-time NBA executive tells CBS News, "The league expects a fight on this."

And that fight could end up in federal court, says Gabe Feldman, the director of the Sports Law Program at Tulane University. He said, "The question is does his racism give the other owners the legal right to vote him out. And we don't know the answer to that yet."

Even though the Clippers are not yet up for sale, some big names are lining up to bid: Oprah Winfrey told CBS News she and David Geffen may partner with Oracle chief executive officer Larry Ellison. Boxing champions Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya are interested, and former Laker and hall-of-famer Magic Johnson moved one step closer to throwing his hat in the ring on Wednesday.

"I will be owning an NBA team sometime. It has to be the right situation. Is the Clippers the right situation? Of course, it's one of the premiere franchises."

While potential buyers wait, the clock is ticking at the NBA. Silver has until Friday to provide Sterling with a written copy of the charges against him and Sterling has five days after that to respond. The Board of Governors then has 10 days to hold a hearing, at which Sterling must appear or else the league assumes he is admitting his guilt.


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