Shelly and Donald Sterling

Though the NBA wants Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling out, following his lifetime ban in wake of his recent racist comments, his estranged wife wants to keep the franchise in the family.

According to ESPN.com, Shelly Sterling has been a co-owner of the Clippers with her husband since 1981 … and serves as one of two alternate governors. The other is team president Andy Roeser, who has began an indefinite leave of absence.

The team, itself, is owned by a family trust.

A TMZ report says that Shelly is planning legal action against the NBA if she doesn’t have control over her interest in the franchise… in the event of a forced sale of the team.

Her lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, says she is adamant that the league has no right to strip her of her 50% ownership, because “she’s an innocent victim.”

O’Donnell is currently in talks with the NBA in an effort to avoid a family sale. He, and Shelly, are demanding that the league allow her to retain her 50% interest.