There are growing indications that L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling will fight to keep his team after being banned for life by the NBA.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CBS that it may take a "protracted fight" before the 80-year-old billionaire agrees to sell.
"He thinks he's going to be the owner for a long time," Garcetti said Sunday on the CBS TV program "Face the Nation."
Sterling's wife, Shelly, however, has taken a conciliatory stance.
"I spoke with Commissioner Adam Silver this week to tell him that I fully supported his recent swift and decisive action," she said in a statement Saturday. "We also agreed at that time that, as a next step, both the league and the team should work together to find some fresh, accomplished executive leadership for the Clippers. I welcome his active involvement in the search for a person of the utmost character, proven excellence and a commitment to promoting equality and inclusiveness.
"As a co-owner, I am fully committed to taking the necessary steps to make the Clippers the best team in the NBA. That has been my aspiration ever since 1981."
Garcetti said he spoke to Sterling several days ago and said the owner did not seem to realize the effect of recorded racial remarks that NBA officials say were made by Sterling.
"He believes in his heart that he's a very good person" and is proud of what he has accomplished, Garcetti said.
The mayor said he and others need to press Sterling to understand that his comments do not reflect Los Angeles and its commitment to diversity and tolerance.
He described Los Angeles as the one of the world's most open and diverse cities. "Los Angeles is not represented by those comments," he said.
Asked if he thought players would want to remain on the team if Sterling was able to hold onto the franchise, Garcetti said "I think it would be very tough for them to stay there."
"I think the players are really the ones that have the burden on them," he said. "They're not going to want to play for somebody -- knowing that the money they're generating for that individual goes into these sorts of attitudes."
The mayor also was asked whether he would urge fans to boycott the Clippers' games if Sterling remained the owner.
"I would certainly keep that arrow in my quiver," he said. "I want to see representation of our city in its best light."
He said the incident has brought together the city in support of its second NBA franchise.