THE ESTRANGED wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will fight to retain her 50 percent ownership stake in the team, her lawyer said yesterday, adding an unwanted twist to the NBA's plan to force new ownership on the franchise.
Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said his client "will not agree to a forced or involuntary seizure of her interest."
"As her lawyers we will fight vigorously to defend her property rights," he said.
O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling has no interest in managing the Clippers and wants a new investor group to come in with a professional management team.
O'Donnell also told the Associated Press that Shelly Sterling has been separated from her husband for the last year and is considering divorce. There is no record of legal separation documents being filed, though O'Donnell said the couple is living apart.
Last week, commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life and urged league owners to force him to sell the team. The move came after a recording surfaced in which Sterling made racist comments, telling his friend V. Stiviano that he didn't want her to bring black people to Clippers games.
At a news conference announcing the decision, Silver said no decision had been made regarding whether Mrs. Sterling or any other members of the Sterling family will be allowed to retain an ownership position.
O'Donnell said he spoke with NBA officials yesterday morning but declined to elaborate. He said Mrs. Sterling has been working cooperatively with Silver and his staff and supported his announcement seeking a new chief executive officer for the team and the NBA's decision to place longtime team president Andy Roeser on leave.
O'Donnell said Mrs. Sterling "abhors" her husband's comments and that Silver had "exonerated" Mrs. Sterling in his statement last week. Silver said the decision only involved Donald Sterling and his actions.
"We abhor guilt by association in America," O'Donnell said. "The sins of the husband cannot be imputed to the wife or children."
In other news:
* Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers won the NBA Sixth Man Award as the league's best player off the bench. The 34-year-old guard is the oldest recipient and the first to win it for two different teams. Crawford won it while with Atlanta in 2009-10.
* At Miami, LeBron James scored 22 points, Chris Bosh added 18 and the Heat took a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series by beating the Brooklyn Nets, 94-82.
Dwyane Wade had 14 and Ray Allen scored 13 for the Heat, who tied a franchise record with their eighth straight playoff victory.
Mirza Teletovic set a Nets playoff record with six three-pointers, on his way to a 20-point night off the bench. Shaun Livingston scored 15, Paul Pierce had 13 and Joe Johnson added 13 more for the Nets.
Game 3 is tomorrow night in Brooklyn.
It was a two-point game midway through the fourth, but back-to-back threes by the Heat opened some breathing room. And then a marathon possession for an NBA team - 100 seconds - sealed the deal for Miami.
Teletovic scored with 3:39 left to get Brooklyn within eight. The Nets didn't get the ball back until 1:59 remained, after the Heat got three offensive rebounds to extend the possession and Wade found James for a layup that put the Heat up 89-79.
Just like that, it was over.