As he threatened, Donald Sterling is not giving up the Los Angeles Clippers without a fight.
The embattled owner said this week that he is going ahead with a $1 billion lawsuit that claims the NBA violated his rights by banning him from the league and trying to take his team away. Instead of a quick resolution to the sordid saga, which started when Sterling's mistress recorded him making racist remarks, the league now faces the prospect of months — or longer — in court.
Here are five ways the dispute could be resolved now that Sterling's lawsuit against his fellow NBA owners is back on:
NEGOTIATION: The league could hammer out a deal with Sterling to get him to drop the lawsuit and let the $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proceed. What would persuade the notoriously litigious Clippers owner to go quietly? The NBA could back down on the $2.5 million fine levied against him by commissioner Adam Silver. But it's doubtful Sterling is jeopardizing a $2 billion deal over a relative pittance.
More likely, the league's longest-tenured owner wants to maintain some association with the Association. Would the NBA be willing to let him attend team functions, retain courtside seats or serve on the board of the planned charitable foundation after some sort of sensitivity training? Perhaps, if that's what it takes to make this all go away.
BANISHMENT: Sterling's temporary acquiescence to the sale may have been a legal rope-a-dope to lull the NBA into canceling the meeting at which it was virtually certain he would have been voted out of the league. Now that the sale is on hold, the league could reschedule the hearing — if for no other reason than to pressure Sterling into a settlement. If he doesn't, the owners vote, the league seizes control of the team and sells it to Ballmer or re-opens the bidding.
BUYER'S REMORSE: Ballmer's bid of $2 billion was almost four times the record for an NBA team, and 3.5 times the value placed on Los Angeles' second-most illustrious NBA franchise by Forbes Magazine earlier this year. He won the auction in a crowded field of celebrity bidders that included Oprah Winfrey, entertainment mogul David Geffen and some of Los Angeles' richest men and women.