NBA: League to name chief executive to oversee Clippers

NEW YORK - With Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned for life from NBA activities, the league Saturday said it would name a chief executive to oversee the club.

Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million dollars by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday after recordings of racist comments by the 80-year-old real estate tycoon were made public. The league is also pursuing efforts to force him to sell the club.

"The best way to ensure the stability of the team during this difficult situation is to move quickly and install a CEO to oversee the Clippers organization," NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said in a statement.

"The process of identifying that individual is under way."

Bass said the league will consult with current management of the Clippers in naming the person who will supervise the club's activities.

Hours after the announcement, the Clippers defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-121 in game seven of their Western Conference first-round series, advancing to a second-round clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Clippers coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers said the controversy surrounding Sterling had taken a toll on his players, and he was thrilled that they were finally able to put Golden State away and keep their post-season alive.

"I just thought this team really needed the game," Rivers said. "I just thought with all this stuff, this team just needed this win.

"I thought our guys fought the adversity, then went through it. It drained them and they found enough energy to find a way to win the game."

The Clippers were swept up in a firestorm last weekend when a recording of billionaire Sterling telling his girlfriend that he did not want her bringing black people to Clippers games was made public.

The remarks had a profound effect in the NBA, a league in which the majority of players are black, and also beyond in a country that still grapples with issues of race.

NBA owners have already started the process of forcing Sterling to sell, which takes a 75 percent vote of the other 29 owners.

The process could push Sterling to sell the team he bought in 1981 for US$12 million (S$15 million), which is now valued at almost US$600 million. However, it could also prompt him to launch a bitter legal fight to keep the team.

Sterling's wife, Shelly Sterling, has continued to attend Clippers games this week and was in attendance at Staples Center on Saturday.

She released a statement saying she supported Silver's actions and the NBA's move to work with the club to appoint a new chief executive.

"As a co-owner, I am fully committed to taking the necessary steps to make the Clippers the best team in the NBA," Shelly Sterling said. "That has been my aspiration ever since 1981."