Sean Powers ’15
It is now reaching a week since NBA commissioner Adam Silver dropped the bomb on Donald Sterling that was a maximum fine of $2.5 million and a life-time ban from the NBA resulting from his racist comments that were recorded. Commissioner Sterling is also urging all other league owners to vote to force Sterling to sell his team. The NBA has a procedure in place that allows owners to force an owner to sell his team under special circumstances. This procedure is found in Article 13 of the NBA constitution which states that three fourths of the league’s owners can vote to rebuke an owner’s ability to own the team.
The article was meant for owners whose team was in financial trouble, but the article is vague which will lead to much debate in which Sterling may be unwilling to give up his team. The Clippers are not in financial trouble and the Clippers’ organization itself is not run in a racist way (to my knowledge) so that is why Sterling has a case to argue. Also there is no morality clause found in the NBA bylaws that says an owner should be terminated for personal remarks made in a private conversation that became public. We may not be done with Sterling because there is a good chance that he may sue the NBA so that he can retain ownership of his team or at least save some money.
What Sterling said was not illegal in US or NBA law because he was really just stating his opinion. I am in no way attempting to advocate what Sterling believes in is right, but rather it is just not illegal. Sterling is not good for a league that is dominated by African Americans, but he is going to be around for awhile. The NBA is set for a long and ugly path in the court room with Donald Sterling and there is a chance that Sterling could come out of it successful. Regardless of the outcome, which may take years to find out, the NBA needs to come up with an effective solution to get Sterling out of the public eye so that he stops having such an impact on a league that should be worried about the playoffs rather than an owner.