LOS ANGELES - Banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling won't pay the $2.5 million fine levied by the NBA, Sterling's attorney wrote in a letter to the NBA, a person with first-hand knowledge of the letter told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the letter, which was sent Thursday.
The attorney, Maxwell M. Blecher, also wrote that Sterling doesn't warrant "any punishment at all" for his racist comments that were recorded in a conversation with a female friend and made public.
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Blecher, a well-known antitrust attorney, also contends that the fine violates Sterling's due process rights.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on April 29 fined Sterling $2.5 million and issued him a lifetime ban. Silver also said he will urge other owners to force a sale of the Clippers and do everything in his power to ensure that.
If three-fourths of the other 29 owners agree to Silver's recommendation, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.
After the ruling, players, fellow owners and civil rights leaders applauded Silver. Union representatives had discussed a boycott of playoff games had Silver not delivered such a strong ruling.
Sterling has already missed the deadline for paying fine, which earlier this week.
It is not a surprise Sterling's attorney threatened a legal battle. Sterling is well-known for litigious tactics, and the league had been expecting Sterling to fight.
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The letter was in direct response to the fine and the lifetime ban. The NBA's advisory-finance committee was also notified of the letter.
Blecher is one of Sterling's longtime lawyers and represented Sterling when he moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984, and the NBA fined him $25 million. Sterling sued the league for $100 million and dropped it when the NBA reduced his fine to $6 million.