Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attended a predominantly black church service in South L.A. on Sunday at the invitation of the church’s pastor.
“I’m here to support this wonderful group,” Sterling told KNBC Channel 4 about Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post said Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church was in San Pedro. It’s in South L.A.
Pastor J. Benjamin Hardwick met Sterling two weeks ago and invited him to worship with the congregation, KNBC said.
“I want you to know, my friend, we pray for you’,” Hardwick told Sterling.
It is unclear whether Sterling addressed the congregation. Calls to the church went unanswered.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million, banned him for life from the league and started the process to end his ownership of the Clippers after an audio recording of Sterling disparaging blacks became public in April.
On Friday, the National Basketball Assn. announced a settlement with Shelly Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust that would allow the team to be sold to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer. A vote of the Board of Governors will be needed to make the sale final.
In exchange, the NBA will end its attempt to terminate the Sterlings’ ownership of the franchise.
But minutes before the NBA’s statement on the matter, Donald Sterling sued the NBA and Silver for damages in excess of $1 billion in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
In the complaint obtained by The Times, Sterling alleged the NBA committed antitrust violations, breached contracts and denied his constitutional rights.
The Sterlings own the team jointly through the Sterling Family Trust. The trust is one of the plaintiffs in Friday’s lawsuit against the NBA and part of the settlement announced by the NBA.
In Sterling’s 32-page response to the NBA’s charges, he claimed the recording was illegal and that he shouldn’t be punished for a private conversation. Sterling’s cover letter to the response hinted at litigation.
“Therefore, I have no alternative but to exercise my legal rights,” he wrote.
As part of the announced settlement, the NBA canceled the Board of Governors meeting scheduled for Tuesday to vote on terminating the Sterlings’ ownership.