Former Citigroup (C) Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons was named interim chief executive officer of the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Clippers, whose owner has been banned from the league for making racist comments.

The NBA disclosed the appointment of Parsons, who was Time Warner CEO from 2002 to 2007 and currently is a senior adviser at Providence Equity, in a statement.

"Like most Americans, I have been deeply troubled by the pain the Clippers' team, fans and partners have endured," Parsons said in the statement.

Parsons, 66, will give up his position as a board member of Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Knicks, said two people with direct knowledge of the appointment. The people were granted anonymity because the NBA didn't disclose the information in its release. Providence has a number of sports-related investments.

The league earlier this month said it would appoint a CEO to oversee the franchise after banning Donald Sterling, the NBA's longest-tenured owner.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also said he would urge the league's other 29 owners to force Sterling to sell the team, which is tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder 1-1 in a best-of-seven second-round playoff series. Game 3 is tonight in Los Angeles.

"A lifelong fan of the NBA, I am firmly committed to the values and principles it is defending, and I completely support Adam's leadership in navigating the challenges facing the team and the league," said Parsons, who played basketball at the University of Hawaii.

Richard Peddie, a former CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which runs basketball's Toronto Raptors and hockey's Maple Leafs, said the appointment of Parsons indicates that the league anticipates a difficult sales process.

"He's Wall Street," Peddie said in a telephone interview. "The focus is going to be more on the sale process than running the team and business. It's going to be complex. It's not the American way to take the company away from someone. That usually results in a lot of rich lawyers."

Clippers President Andy Roeser this week took an indefinite leave of absence.

A number of suitors have emerged as possible buyers for the Clippers, including music executive David Geffen, who said his bid group would include Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison and Oprah Winfrey.

Sterling hasn't said whether he would fight the NBA's push to force a sale.

"The hiring of Dick Parsons will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization," Silver said in the statement. "Dick's credentials as a proven chief executive speak for themselves and I am extremely grateful he accepted this responsibility."

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