NEW YORK: Los Angeles Clippers’ President Andy Roeser, who has been with the NBA club since 1984, will take an indefinite leave of absence starting immediately, the league announced yesterday.
The news came three days after the NBA announced that it would appoint a new chief executive to oversee the day-to-day operations of the club in the wake of the racism scandal that led to a life ban being imposed on owner Donald Sterling.
“This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilise under difficult circumstances,” said NBA spokesman Mike Bass.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling, the longest-tenured NBA team owner, for life after racist remarks he made in a private conversation with a girlfriend were made public.
The comments, first released by celebrity website TMZ, included Sterling saying he didn’t want his girlfriend bringing black people to Clippers games or posting photographs of herself on social media with black people.
A firestorm of outrage followed, leading the Clippers players to wear their uniforms inside out in a pre-game warmup before Silver banned Sterling and fined the 80-year-old billionaire $2.5m, the maximum allowed under league rules.
NBA owners have also started the process of setting up a vote to strip the team from Sterling, a move that could push him to sell the Clippers, who are likely to attract bids of more than $600m, or take the NBA to court in a legal fight that could be bitter and lengthy.
Sterling has a history of litigation, including legal triumphs in controversial matters involving racial issues in past business dealings with his real estate empire.
Roeser had guided the Clippers for the past week but had upset many with a statement in the hours after the comments first became public, saying in part the remarks did not reflect Sterling’s true feelings on racial matters before it was certain Sterling had made them.
Sterling later admitted to the league that he made the comments.
But Clippers’ players are enjoying a good run.
They overcame the distraction swirling around them to defeat the Golden State Warriors four games to three in the opening round of the Western Conference play-offs. AFP