In happier times, Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano watch a basketball game together in May 2013 in San Antonio. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
In happier times, Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano watch a basketball game together in May 2013 in San Antonio. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

USA Today Sports is reporting that Donald Sterling has agreed to transfer his ownership share of the Los Angeles Clippers to his wife, Shelly. And she has changed her mind — after insisting she’d hold on to her 50 percent share — and will voluntarily sell the basketball team.

The story, which relied on anonymous sources, said:

There are contingencies in the agreement, a second person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. Shelly Sterling has agreed to sell the team as long as she retains a minority interest in the Clippers, according to the second person, who also requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

It was not immediately clear whether the NBA will agree to Shelly Sterling’s terms. The NBA, which banned Sterling for life on April 29, has said its move to terminate Donald Sterling’s ownership would also terminate any other ownership interest in the team.

A person with knowledge of her interest told USA TODAY Sports that Oprah Winfrey is still interested in putting together a bid with David Geffen and Larry Ellison. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no other announcement was being made.

Donald Sterling, 80, has been the focus of almost nonstop attention since April 25, when TMZ Sports released a recording of a conversation between him and his friend, V. Stiviano, in which he made racist comments about African-Americans and came across as an all-around troglodyte. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life four days later, and fined him $2.5 million. Last week, Sterling’s lawyer said he wouldn’t pay the fine.

On May 12, in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN where people expected the embattled owner to take a stab at damage control, Sterling instead made a really bad situation even worse, by attacking basketball legend Magic Johnson and his HIV status.

The USA Today story said that transferring ownership is a multi-step process and approval requires three-fourths of the owners’ vote.

Although Silver had said the ban on Sterling applied only to him,  many NBA players have lobbied to get the entire family out of the game they love. Earlier this month, LeBron James said, “As players, we want what’s right and we don’t feel like no one in his family should be able to own the team.”

The Sterling Family Trust, according to USA Today, owns the Clippers in the names of Donald and Shelly Sterling. The trust will be bequeathed upon death to their childen.


Patricia Yollin

Pat Yollin has written about all kinds of stuff, including wayward penguins at the San Francisco Zoo, organ transplants, the comeback of the cream puff, New York on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, a Slow Food gathering in Italy and the microcredit movement in Northern California. Among her favorite stories: an interview with George Lucas at Skywalker Ranch, a profile of Italy's consul general in SF, and a pirate Trader Joe's operation in Vancouver that prompted the grocery chain to sue -- and lose.

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