It appears Donald Sterling is in it for the legal long haul, so the next few months could get really sad for the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to the L.A. Times, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips will no longer represent Sterling and his wife, Shelly, because of the couple's diverging interests from each other and from the team that is now being run day-to-day by Chief Executive Dick Parsons.
Manatt partner Robert Platt is chief counsel for the Clippers, but no longer a representative of ownership.
Donald Sterling will now be represented by the veteran antitrust lawyer Maxwell M. Blecher, after other top Los Angeles law firms turned him away, according to the Times report.
With the amount of money at stake, the move by Sterling was expected, especially since he is a lawyer himself. The Times reports that Blecher has already sent letters to the NBA refusing to the pay the $2.5 million fine NBA commissioner Adam Silver levied against Sterling.
According to Sports World Report, this is the last thing a Clippers fan wants to hear, because it could lead to major trouble for the franchise that just lost a hard fought playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
One thing is for certain, the players do not want to play for either Donald or his soon to be ex wife. Because, as most of the free world knows by now, both have a long history of racism and bigotry. The players and coaches have performed their best this season, and helped to put a lot of money in the Sterling's coffers.
The players are prepared to take a stand if the process to oust the owners goes too slow, like they were before Silver made his decision to ban Sterling, and try and remove him from ownership. If they can't force a trade because ownership "doesn't want black people' at the games, then it's easy to see them refusing to play.
Clippers players met at their practice facility Friday and talked to reporters about their playoff ouster, and the possibility of Sterling still being owner next season.
There is no doubt Chris Paul has had enough of the drama the story brings.
"To tell you the truth, we don't think about that. That's the least of our worries right now - him. We just lost a damn series. I'm sorry, but we don't care about that," he said. "It's the last thing on our minds. We're giving him too much attention as it is."
Jamal Crawford said he doesn't know what he'll do if Sterling owns the team on opening night next season.
JJ Redick said he can see this legal battle taking a while, though.
"It appears that this will be a long process. Things will be in flux for a while," Redick said. "I can't imagine a scenario where we start the season next year and he's the owner and all is kosher."
Blake Griffin called for a quick fix to the problem, a scenario that, unfortunately, is very unlikely to happen.
"I think the longer it lasts, the worse it'll be," Griffin said. "I think something should happen, and it should happen quickly. I think guys need to make decisions. I don't think anybody wants this to drag out, you know, except for one or two people. I think it just needs to be swift."
Regrettably for the players, and Coach Doc Rivers, who has also expressed much dismay and frustration over the whole ordeal, Blecher has a long and successful record at fighting these types of big league battles.
According to the times story, Blecher was involved in a battle with the NFL, representing Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which wanted to bring the Raiders south from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. He beat the league by arguing the league had no right to prevent the Raiders from making the move. In the end, the NFL had to pay the Coliseum $28 million in damages.
In 1995, Blecher smacked down the NFL again when he represented Los Angeles Rams owner Georgia Frontiere as she pushed to move the pro football franchise to St. Louis.
Once the emotions from the playoff loss wears down some, and the players have time to think about continuing to help Sterling add to his riches, and how this is probably going to be a very long court battle, it may be hard for any NBA player to take the team seriously, much less play for them.