LA Clippers president Roeser takes leave of absence
File photo taken in December 2011 shows Andy Roeser, former president of the Los Angeles Clippers, at a press conference in California - by Stephen Dunn
The news came three days after the NBA announced that it would appoint a new chief executive to oversee the day-to-day operations of the club in the wake of the racism scandal that led to a life ban being imposed on owner Donald Sterling.
"This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances," said NBA spokesman Mike Bass.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling, the longest-tenured team owner, for life after racist remarks he made in a private conversation with a girlfriend were made public.
The comments, first released by celebrity website TMZ, included Sterling saying he didn't want his girlfriend bringing black people to Clippers games or posting photographs of herself on social media with black people.
A firestorm of outrage followed, leading the Clippers players to wear their uniforms inside out in a pre-game warmup before Silver banned Sterling and fined the 80-year-old billionaire $2.5 million dollars, the maximum allowed under league rules.
Team owners have also started the process of setting up a vote to strip the team from Sterling, a move that could push him to sell the Clippers, who are likely to attract bids of more than $600 million, or take the NBA to court in a legal fight that could be bitter and lengthy.
Sterling has a history of litigation, including legal triumphs in controversial matters involving racial issues in past business dealings with his real estate empire.
Roeser had guided the Clippers for the past week but had upset many with a statement in the hours after the comments first became public, saying in part the remarks did not reflect Sterling's true feelings on racial matters before it was certain Sterling had made them.
Sterling later admitted to the league that he made the comments.
On the court, Clippers players overcame the distraction swirling around them to defeat the Golden State Warriors four games to three in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs.
- Clippers just moving forward -
The Clippers began their second-round best-of-seven series against Oklahoma City on Monday with a 122-105 road triumph over the Thunder, and coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers said Tuesday in Oklahoma that the team was "pretty much focused" on game two.
Rivers said the team had finished training on Tuesday before he even learned of Roeser's departure and he gave the news to his players.
"I told the guys, 'Just keep playing. We got it. We'll handle everything,'" Rivers said, adding that Clippers players took it in stride.
"I think they've heard so much stuff lately that they are just moving forward," he said.
The Clippers' success in recent days has swiped some of the luster from Thunder star Kevin Durant's being given the NBA 2014 Most Valuable Player award on Tuesday and it helped prompt the Warriors to fire coach Mark Jackson.