The NBA wants a federal judge to force Sterling to pay for the millions in cost incurred when he tried to back out of selling the Los Angeles basketball franchise last summer amid controversy over his recorded racial comments.
Sterling lawyers argue that since his private remarks to 31-year-old Stiviano — he told her not to bring “black people” to Clippers games — should not have been used to punish him because they were “illegally recorded conversations.”
Sterling, 80, “had become jealous of Ms. Stiviano’s apparent association with ‘four gorgeous black guys’” who he saw as “threatening to his relationship with Ms. Stiviano,” his lawyers wrote in the court filing.
“In the heat of the moment, Sterling advised Ms. Stiviano not to bring ‘black people’ to Clippers games and to refrain from posting pictures of herself with ‘black people’ on Instagram,” wrote the counselors.
Sterling lawyers also contend that the NBA launched a “sham of an investigation” after the audio was published online in April 2014.
Sterling “anticipates conducting broad discovery related to the circumstances surrounding the illegal recording by V. Stiviano and the consequences thereof,” his lawyers stated. Stiviano and Lucy Vasquez, her sister who was also present during the controversial conversation, would be the focus, they added.
NBA lawyers wrote that they expected a “narrow” discovery effort, but also with Stiviano and her sister as the focus.
The NBA said it could be read for trial in March 2016, while Sterling’s legal team said they would need until December 2016.
The case could be resolved well before it’s due to go to trial. “There have been no meaningful settlement discussions between the parties,” the joint filing revealed. “The parties agree to private mediation.”