sport

NBA charge Sterling

The NBA has moved a step closer to removing Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

The 80-year-old was banned for life from the NBA and fined 2.5million US dollars on April 29 after being found guilty of making racist comments on tape and now the NBA have initiated a charge that he "engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams".

Sterling had found himself at the centre of huge controversy in the USA after American network TMZ had broadcast him apparently telling a girlfriend not to bring black people to the team's games.

And the league has now called a meeting for June 3 during which a three-quarter vote by the board of governors to sustain the charge will see Sterling lose the club.

"The NBA initiated a charge Monday seeking to terminate the ownership of Donald Sterling in the Los Angeles Clippers," read a statement.

"If the NBA board of governors sustains the charge by a 3/4 vote, all ownership interests in the Clippers will be terminated and the team will be sold to new owners.

"The NBA constitution provides Mr Sterling with the opportunity to respond to the charge by May 27, as well as the right to appear and make a presentation at a special meeting of the board of governors. This hearing, which is planned for June 3, will be presided over by NBA board of governors' chairman Glen Taylor, the controlling governor of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"The charge asserts that Mr Sterling engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams.

"Among other things, Mr Sterling disparaged African-Americans and 'minorities'; directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games; and criticised African-Americans for not supporting their communities.

"Mr Sterling's actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA's relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA's relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders.

"Mr Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.

"All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA constitution and related agreements."

Following Sterling's comments, Clippers players made a silent protest ahead of their NBA Western Conference play-off series defeat to the Golden State Warriors, while financial backers withdrew their support for the club.