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Elgin Baylor-Clippers lawsuit -- another update

February 11, 2009 |  9:04 pm

Elgin Baylor The Clippers have issued a terse statement about the civil lawsuit filed earlier on Wednesday in Superior Court in Los Angeles by Elgin Baylor, the franchise's former general manager.

The statement is from Robert H. Platt, the Clippers' general counsel and a partner with the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips:

Not having seen the complaint, I cannot comment on Elgin's specific allegations.

However, I can categorically state that the Clippers always treated Elgin fairly throughout his long tenure with the team. Prior to his decision to leave the team last October, Elgin never raised any claims of unfair treatment.

It's hard to believe that he would now make these ridiculous claims after the organization stood by him for 22 years and only three playoff appearances. It would be hard to find any sports team that has demonstrated greater loyalty to its General Manager.

The team intends to vigorously defend itself against these false allegations and will prevail when all the facts are heard.

Baylor's lawsuit that seeks unspecified financial damages claims that Sterling embraced a racist "vision of a Southern Plantation type structure" for the Clippers.

The lawsuit alleges that, as far back as 2004, Clippers owner Donald Sterling and other club officials were employing "a campaign" to force Baylor into retirement -- using "ageist comments" and "repeatedly hassling" him about quitting.

Baylor also maintains that his role as general manager when the Clippers played into the 2006 post-season went unrewarded. The suit alleges that Mike Dunleavy, “the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22 million contract,” but that his salary "has been frozen at a comparatively paltry $350,000 since 2003."

The NBA, Baylor contends, “condoned, adopted and ratified this gross pay disparity."

The lawsuit alleges that Sterling and other franchise officials had gradually stripped him of his authority as general manager -- and that, by 2007, Baylor was so isolated that he had to “get his news about the Clippers from public news reports."

Check latimes.com/sports later tonight for a longer story.

-- Lisa Dillman and Greg Johnson

Photo: Elgin Baylor in 2005. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

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