Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling said on Monday the basketball franchise was not for sale and that he would fight to keep the team he built, NBC News reported.
Sterling was banned for life by the National Basketball Association in April after a tape recording of disparaging remarks he made about black people was leaked, triggering fury among fans, players and sponsors of his team.
"From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. I have worked for 33 years to build the team," NBC News quoted the 80-year-old Sterling as saying, citing a statement from him titled, "The Team is not for Sale."
Representatives of Sterling did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the report.
Sterling sued the NBA and its commissioner on May 30 seeking at least $1 billion in damages, just as the league tentatively approved a deal by his estranged wife, co-owner of the franchise, to sell the club for $2 billion to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer.
In addition to the lifetime ban, the NBA commissioner also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the league's maximum penalty, and urged its 29 other team owners to take the unprecedented step of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers, which he bought in 1981.
In his statement carried by NBC, Sterling said he was extremely sorry for the hurtful statements he made privately, and that they were made in anger and jealousy.
But he said he believed NBA commissioner Adam Silver "acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers," banning him for life, and imposing the fine.
"The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans," the statement said.
"I have decided that I must fight to protect my rights. While my position may not be popular, I believe that my rights to privacy and the preservation of my rights to due process should not be trampled."
(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jeremy Laurence)