The NBA has selected former Citigroup and Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons to
serve as the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers. Parsons will oversee the team's
business operations while the league continues the process of removing current owner
Donald Sterling, who was suspended by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for life after
acknowledging making racially charged remarks in a tape recording made public.The
league settled on Parsons in the last few days, with the 66-year-old executive's background
at the highest levels of the business world making him a favored choice for the position. The
league announced last week that Clippers president Andy Roeser would be taking an indefinite
leave of absence to clear room for the new CEO, which the NBA believes is necessary to bring
"stability" to the team in the wake of Sterling's remarks.
Parsons is not expected to be involved in making any basketball decisions for the Clippers,
with head coach Doc Rivers continuing to have final say on all aspects of that side of the business.
Donald Sterling's wife, Shelley, has said she supports the league installing a new CEO to help
the team through its current turmoil although she said this week she wants to stay on in a
co-ownership capacity with a new owner when and if the team is sold. Shelley Stirling currently
has a 50 percent ownership stake in the Clippers.
Rivers said that it would be "a very hard situation" going forward if Shelley Sterling, who was
named as a co-defendant with her husband in a 2006 lawsuit accusing the Sterlings of racial
housing discrimination, remained with the team. The suit accused Shelley Sterling of also
making disparaging remarks about African-Americans as well as Latinos. It was settled, with
the Sterlings making no admission of guilt as a condition of the settlement. Parsons has spent
the last two decades in several high-profile positions in the business world. He helped Dime
Bank survive the Savings and Loan crisis in the late 1980s, then became chair of Time Warner
(the parent company of Turner Sports) as the company prepared to merge with America Online
in 2000. The subsequent AOL Time Warner corporation was a significant business failure,
however, with Time Warner breaking off from AOL in 2009.
Parsons stepped down as CEO of Time Warner in 2007. He became chairman of Citigroup in
2009, helping that company through the financial crisis of the last decade before announcing
his retirement in 2012. Recently, Parsons helped bankroll the renovation of Minton's Playhouse,
the historic jazz club in Harlem that featured Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk as regular
performers in the 1940s and '50s.
The NBA's Advisory and Finance Committee met Wednesday to discuss the process going
forward for removing Donald Sterling. The Committee is expected to recommend removing
Sterling within the next few weeks, with a full vote of the NBA's Board of Governors expected
soon after. Three-fourths, or 23, of the league's 30 owners are required to remove Sterling as
owner. He has owned the team since 1981, and is the NBA's longest-tenured owner. Donald
Sterling maintains that he will not sell, with the likelihood of a court battle with the league increasing.