By Steve Almasy, CNN.
(CNN) — Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has sent a letter to the National Basketball Association telling the league he won’t pay his $2.5 million fine and rejecting his lifetime ban, according to multiple media reports.
Sports Illustrated and USA Today, citing unnamed sources, reported the letter also threatens the NBA with a lawsuit if Sterling’s punishment for making racist remarks, handed down by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in April, is not rescinded.
(Read more on SportsIllustrated.com.)
“We reject your demand for payment,” the letter says, according to Sports Illustrated.
CNN has not independently confirmed the reports.
In an exclusive interview with CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” this week, Sterling repeatedly denied he is a racist despite remarks made in a private conversation with his friend V. Stiviano that were released online.
Sterling said was baited into saying those remarks.
“I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness,” he told Cooper. “Am I entitled to one mistake? After 35 years. I mean, I love my league, I love my partners … It’s a terrible mistake, and I’ll never do it again.”
The league’s 29 other owners have taken the initial steps to force Sterling to sell the franchise he has owned for 33 years.
Sterling has hired Maxwell Blecher, an antitrust lawyer, to represent him with the NBA, Sports Illustrated said.
Blecher represented the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in its lawsuit victory against the NFL that allowed the Raiders to move to the city from Oakland without approval from other owners before the 1982 season. The Raiders returned in 1995.
According to a 1982 Washington Post article, Blecher also represented Sterling when the Clippers owner wanted to move the team from San Diego to Los Angeles. The NBA fined the franchise $25 million when he did so in 1984, but Sterling sued until the league reduced the fine, according to multiple media reports.
CNN reached out to Blecher on Thursday night, but didn’t hear back immediately.
The Clippers were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night in a bid to extend their playoff series to a decisive seventh game.
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