NBA will appoint CEO of Clippers

ByArash Markazi ESPN logo
Saturday, May 3, 2014

The NBA will appoint a chief executive officer to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Clippers, the league announced Saturday. 

Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million on Tuesday by commissioner Adam Silver for racist remarks he made that were published by TMZ. 

Team president Andy Roeser, one of the Clippers' two alternate governors besides Sterling, had been in charge of the team since Silver's announcement on Tuesday. Roeser, however, drew the ire of many in the organization after he released a statement initially giving Sterling the benefit of the doubt in the wake of Sterling's remarks.

Once appointed, sources said, the CEO will supersede Roeser, and be given the power to decide if Roeser remains with the organization.

The decision to appoint a CEO was made in concert with the Clippers organization. No timetable for the appointment was given except to say that it would be made "quickly."

"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," league spokesman Mike Bass said. "The process of identifying that individual is underway."

The process is reminiscent of the NBA appointing Jack Sperling to oversee the New Orleans Hornets when it operated the franchise in 2011-12 after owner George Shinn no longer had the means to.

Coach Doc Rivers, who is also the team's vice president of basketball operations, will continue to run the basketball side with vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks.

"The NBA has to do their job, they really do," Rivers said. "They have a lot on their plate as well and I don't think this is something that they can wait on. They're going to do their job."

Donald Sterling's wife Shelly, co-owner of the team, said in a statement that she fully supports the decision.

"I spoke with Commissioner Adam Silver this week to tell him that I fully supported his recent swift and decisive action," she said. "We also agreed at that time that, as a next step, both the league and the team should work together to find some fresh, accomplished executive leadership for the Clippers. I welcome his active involvement in the search for a person of the utmost character, proven excellence and a commitment to promoting equality and inclusiveness."

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

The announcement came three hours before Game 7 of the Clippers' first-round series against the Golden State Warriors.

NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum addressed Clippers employees on Saturday night at Staples Center to brief them on the situation. Rivers will be consulted on the search for the CEO, according to sources, with the league expected to make a decision on the position as early as next week.

The league's advisory/finance committee held its first meeting about Sterling on Thursday, two days after Silver said he would urge owners to force a sale of the team. The 10-member committee said in a statement that it "unanimously agreed to move forward as expeditiously as possible" on the process of terminating Sterling's ownership and planned to reconvene next week.

Sterling's awards were removed from the team's training facility this week and the "Sterling Drive" sign above the driveway entering the facility also was removed.

Several high-profile figures have come forward to express their interest in buying the Clippers, including Oprah Winfrey, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Magic Johnson, which didn't come as a surprise to Rivers.

"It's in a great location and I think that has a lot to do with it," Rivers said. "We have some pretty good players. I just think it's a very valuable franchise in that way and that's why a lot of people want in on it. You knew that if this franchise ever did go for sale that there would be a lot of people in line because it's a good market with a good team and people see lot of promise. There have been a lot of good things done here and I think a lot of people see that."

Information from's Ramona Shelburne was used in this report.