LOS ANGELES -- The man drafted by the NBA to oversee the Los Angeles Clippers after Donald Sterling's lifetime ban in a racism row said Monday he thinks the team will have new owners.
Richard Parsons, a former chairman of media giant Time Warner and of Citigroup, was named on Friday to guide the club as the NBA pursues efforts to strip the billionaire 80-year-old of the team he bought in 1981.
"My personal belief is that the league will prevail, which means that there will be an ownership change," Parsons said at a press conference to introduce himself as the team's interim chief executive.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has already banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after racially charged remarks the real estate tycoon made in a private conversation that were made public.
But it will take a vote of 75 percent of the remaining 29 NBA owners to force Sterling to relinquish the club.
Parsons said his job was to keep the Clippers running and preserve the club's value, estimated at around $600 million.
"My job is to make sure the boat still floats, the boat is headed in the right direction and, maybe, we pick up a little speed," he said.
Parsons added that he'd agreed to step into the breach to help out Silver, his old friend.
"It struck (me) that maybe I could be of some help to him and to the league -- and frankly to all of us -- in terms of bringing some calmness and order to this side of the equation as the big fight over ownership goes forward," Parsons said.
'Not a racist'
Sterling has given his first sit-down interview since the scandal broke two weeks ago, offering an apology in speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"I'm not a racist," Sterling said. "I made a terrible mistake. I'm here to apologize."
He didn't take the combative stance that many observers had predicted, but he expressed a desire to be given another chance.
Sterling told Cooper he was "baited" by V. Stiviano, the young woman he chastised for publicly associating with black people.
"Well yes, I was baited," Sterling said. "I mean, that's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things."
But in a league in which the players are predominantly black, and in a country that grapples with racial issues, Sterling was immediately condemned.
His estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, has tried to distance herself from him, and says she'll fight to keep her 50 percent ownership stake in a team that is in the playoffs.
The NBA said Sunday that was not an option, since the league's constitution stipulates that if the majority owner of a team is stripped of ownership, those with minority interests give up theirs as well.
Shelly Sterling has mounted her own media offensive, with an interview with Barbara Walters of ABC News.
In the interview, she denies making racist comments in connection with a previous discrimination lawsuit which she and Donald Sterling settled with the Justice Department.
Those past accusations of discrimination against Black, Hispanic and Korean tenants at some of his rental properties are receiving new scrutiny and further fueling calls for the team to be sold.
Parsons said he had met with Clippers management and staff, including head coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers, but hadn't yet met with players.
The upheaval comes as the Clippers have their best opportunity in years to fashion a deep playoff run. They are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series against Oklahoma City.
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