New York: The NBA charged Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday with racist conduct detrimental to the league, setting a June 3 hearing where owners could strip the team from him.
The charges mark the official start of the process by the league to oust Sterling from the NBA -- and it hopes draw a line under one of the most unsavory episodes in the sport`s recent history.
Under NBA rules, Sterling has the right to respond to the claims by May 27.
"Termination of the (Clippers) entire membership... is called for by the Constitution and related agreements and is the only viable means for bringing Mr. Sterling`s interest in the Clippers to an end," the league said.
Sterling, who received a life ban and $2.5 million fine for racist remarks made public last month, can attend and make a presentation at the special hearing of the NBA Board of Governors (team owners) that is set for just two days before the start of the NBA finals.
A vote of 75 percent of league owners is required to uphold the charge against Sterling and terminate his interest in the Clippers, opening the door for the club to be sold to new owners -- it is expected to fetch in the region of $600 million.
Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, the chairman of the governing board, will preside over the June 3 meeting.
Sterling has asked the league to give him a three-month extension to answer the charges, Sports Illustrated reported.Sterling has admitted to saying that he did not want his girlfriend to bring black people to Clippers games and did not want her to post photos with black people on social media websites.
The 80-year-old, who made a fortune in the apartment rental business, said he made the remarks as a way of trying to seduce his assistant into having sex.
He later apologized for the remarks in an interview with CNN in which he declared he was not a racist and that he had made a "terrible mistake" and asked for forgiveness from fellow owners.
But Sterling then went out of his way to insult former NBA star Magic Johnson, prompting an apology from the NBA.
Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is among those saying there is no place in the NBA for Sterling.
The league asserted in its claims that Sterling`s conduct has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams.
In a statement, the league said Sterling disparaged African-Americans and minorities, directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities.
"Sterling`s actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA`s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, damage the NBA`s relationship with its fans, harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel and impair the NBA`s relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders."
Sponsors pulled back from the Clippers in the wake of the remarks and even though the Clippers were not eliminated until the second round of the NBA playoffs, it was in spite of the controversy swirling around them."Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter," the NBA statement said.
"All of these acts provide grounds for termination under several provisions of the NBA Constitution and related agreements."
Sterling has said that he would look at taking the NBA to court to fight being stripped of the team.
The NBA appointed former Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons as interim chief executive of the Clippers, making decisions for the team until the ownership situation is settled.
The Clippers` controversial season ended Thursday when the Oklahoma City Thunder beat them 104-98 to win their playoff series four games to two.