LOS ANGELES ( – In a last-ditch effort to compromise with the NBA, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling today said he is willing to sell the franchise as long as he still gets to keep the team’s African-American players as his personal property.

Clippers' staff admit they told Sterling he literally "owned" the team's black players.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver immediately responded by saying Sterling doesn’t “own” the people in his organization, but the embattled owner, banned by the league for racist comments, said that was not his understanding.

“No, I remember signing the papers with their former masters,” said Sterling. “It was very official.”

Asked about Sterling’s recollection, Clippers Assistant GM Matt Gerson admitted the team’s staff, “may have mislead” the owner into believing the players he bought were his property.

“OK, I know that sounds bad, but we had to,” Gerson explained. “Otherwise he wouldn’t have allowed black players anywhere near the team.”

Gerson also admitted he told Sterling that the player’s agents were their slave masters, and that the contracts they signed were property transfers. “Again, had to,” he said. “Don doesn’t know African-Americans have legal standing yet.”

Does Sterling not know slavery was outlawed in the United States in 1863?

“We were going to tell him, eventually,” Gerson replied. “We just weren’t sure he was ready.”

In response to the news, Sterling, who faces the forced sale of the Clippers by June 3 , proposed another compromise, saying he would keep the team but grant the 12 African-American players their freedom.

“They can go where they want, marry who they want, even vote, I suppose, if those people are allowed to vote,” said Sterling. “That seems pretty fair to me.”

“Look, I’m doing more than Magic Johnson did,” he added. “Did he ever free anyone? He never freed anyone.”

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