Garcetti expects 'protracted fight' in Clippers ownership dispute

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses Donald Sterling controversy
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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says Donald Sterling wants to remain the owner of the L.A. Clippers and could fight efforts to force him to sell the team. 

Garcetti appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" and responded to the racist comments made by Sterling that have sparked outrage in the NBA and bruised the team, even as it continues its winning streak in the NBA playoffs.

Garcetti said he didn't think Sterling would willingly step down as the owner of the team.

"I think that he thinks he's going to be the owner for a long time," Garcetti said. "He wants to stay the owner. And I said 'This will be a long, protracted fight and a painful thing for a city that is a great city, a great American city.'"

The mayor said he'd continue to pressure Sterling to sell the team, and when asked, didn't rule out the idea he might encourage fans to boycott the Clippers games if Sterling ends up with control of the franchise.

"I'll continue to pressure [him], to look at the fans, the sponsors, the players to try to help Don Sterling move forward," Garceitt told host Bob Schieffer when asked what he would do if Sterling refused to step aside. "I think he needs to recognize what he said, what's in his heart. But Los Angeles is not represented by those statements."

Garcetti went on to say that L.A. has been home to Jackie Robinson, Magic Johnson, and Jason Collins, and has a history of fostering inclusiveness and diversity in sports. He said Sterling still needed to recognize the pain that his comments had caused.

"He needs to be a part of that healing," Garcetti said.  "To fight this for a long time only means that the value of the team goes down, but more importantly [it means] the debate rages on forever, and I think we need to put an end to it."

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Asked by Schieffer why he felt Sterling would likely fight on, the mayor said Sterling feels he's being mischaracterized.

"I think he believes in his heart that he's a very good person," Garcetti said. "And as I said to him, 'Nobody's so simple that we only do good things or do bad things.' Clearly there's good organizations he's given to in the past. There's things that he's done of a civic nature. But these statements are what they are.," Garcetti said. "To say that you don't want somebody's black friends to come to a basketball game - in a league that's 70 percent African Amcrican, in the most diverse city on the face of the earth, the most welcoming place probably in human history — is just incongruous with who we are as Americans."

When asked whether he would encourage his city to boycott Clippers games if Sterling is able to stay the owner of the team, Garcetti said, "I would certainly keep that arrow in my quiver."

Watch the full interview above.

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