May 2, 2014 1:29 PM
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's health is suddenly an issue amid the controversy over his racially offensive comments becoming public.
Just before the end of Thursday night's playoff game, ESPN.com reported that Sterling is battling cancer. The news came as a surprise to Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
"I didn't know it until just now," said Rivers. "I don't have a reaction to that. I hope it's not true."
"My thoughts and prayers are with him," said Clippers forward Blake Griffin. "I mean, nobody deserves to go through something like that."
The news didn't appear to affect the game. With the Clippers' loss Thursday night, the team still needs to win one more game in order to move on to the second round of the NBA playoff series, a position it's reached only twice in the past 30 years.
After a tumultuous week off the court, focusing on winning games is far more of a familiar challenge for the team's players and coach.
"Whenever we're loose and joking around and - still focused but joking around - and relaxed, I think that's when we're at our best, and we've been able to get back to that," Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said.
As the team prepares for Saturday's deciding Game 7, the league is focused on the next steps in the saga of Sterling, who this week was banned from the sport for life.
On Thursday, a committee representing 10 team owners met for the first time to discuss options for ending Sterling's ownership. The NBA was short on specifics, saying in a statement "the committee unanimously agreed to move forward as expeditiously as possible and will reconvene next week."
But legal experts warn that's just the beginning.
University of Southern California law professor Michael Chasalow expects Sterling will go to court to fight any effort to take away his team. He said that battle could take months or even years, especially since the team isn't technically owned by Sterling alone.
"My understanding is it's held in a family trust, so he might try to transfer the team to the family trust and say, 'I'm not the owner anymore; my family is,'" Chasalow said.
Sterling has been largely silent about his intentions, so far telling only one reporter the team is not for sale.
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