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Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Few Thoughts on The Donald

I want to offer a few thoughts on the L’Affair de Donald. I only just this morning got a chance to listen to the recorded conversation that apparently took place between L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano, as reported by TMZ. In the absence of any denials from Sterling’s representatives the veracity question seems to be resolved. The only remaining open question is whether Sterling could reasonably expect privacy over an argument with his girlfriend, which hinges on his complicity in the conversation’s recording. (TMZ is reporting that Sterling was fully complicit.) I cannot imagine that if one is aware of being recorded that even so-called “pillow talk” would come with an expectation of privacy. His expectations don’t and probably shouldn’t matter at a whit to the public, but likely matter a great deal to how the NBA and NBAPA will proceed.

If you’ve not had a chance to listen to the conversation I would suggest you do so. If you begin with the premise that all lives feature contested social positions and contradictions, and that what’s interesting is how we manage those contradictions, then this is a fascinating listen. There is some serious contradiction management going on in this thing. Wow. Someday, an intersectionality scholar will conduct a close reading on these tapes and will simultaneously drown, burst into flame, while his or her head implodes. Hell, I may be that scholar.

***

At the risk of burying the lede, allow me to start with my conclusion. The real crime here will be if the good people at Saturday Night Live and/or Drunk History simply sit back and allow this moment to go unparodied. If they fail to get the TMZ transcripts and give them the full-on Thomas Jefferson/Sallie Hemming treatment they so richly deserve then we the people will be impoverished for it.

***

 

On a mildly more serious note, I do want to respond to some of the issues that have emerged in media coverage and public discussion over the past weekend.

What Rights Do Owner Have to Say and Do As They Please? I have not heard anyone ask this question directly, but plenty have hinted at it. The question mostly comes up when powerful people are publicly shamed for a “let them eat cake” moment. A strict libertarian response to the question would be that as long as Sterling’s actions are lawful and ethical, his attitudes are a non-issue for the league. The league can and perhaps should do nothing, lest it institute an ideological litmus test that many other owners might also fail. In fact, Sterling’s rambling and barely coherent point is that his his desire for high social distance from Black masculinity–his desire for exotic Black femininity notwithstanding–represents the mainstream among those in his social milieu. (Hell, that’s why his friends told him about who was on Stiviano’s Instagram in the first place.) If the league throws Sterling out on those grounds, a whole lot of people might have to go with him if there is to be any consistency at all. Besides, the argument goes, people are free to choose. If they don’t care for Sterling’s attitudes they don’t have to go to the games–or they can go and boo to their throats are sore. Likewise, coaches and free agents can choose to sign with the Clippers of their own volition.

Although I am purposefully stripping the argument of nuance, there isn’t much nuance to strip from a strict libertarian reading. It pits property rights (and speech as an extension of those rights) against other kinds of concerns. The argument is not without its merits. Owners have and do engage in their own business, civic, and personal interests outside the scope of league business. However, a strict libertarian reading is a difficult one in a joint venture like the NBA, where franchise owners agree to a covenantal relationship governed by league bylaws and a commissioner with wide latitude to act in the league’s best interests. The league’s members rightly have an expectation that owners’ private activities do not unduly impact the logo, whose value is derived interdependently from among the franchises. So, that the league can respond seems like “settled law”. What actions trigger a response, and then what response, seem more like the pertinent issues. Doing nothing is probably not an option now. A franchise owner cannot just dis a segment of the paying public, not to mention an NBA icon, and expect that the league will do nothing.

To Protest or Not to Protest? Certainly, if the league proceeds (as it clearly intends to) it will treat this as a “best interests” matter. Many have also called for the players to take a public stand, regardless of what the league does. That includes players refusing to play. I am not here to say what any player should do, apart from what their respective consciences and politics dictate. I do however agree wholeheartedly with sentiment expressed by Jalen Rose (whose insights I have generally come to enjoy in the studio). This is a league-wide issue that calls for institutional rather than strictly personal responses from the league and from the Players Association. Clippers players should be free to do what conscience dictates, but It cannot only be about the Clippers.

For the Players Association this moment is broadly about the quality of their respective work environments rather than simply chastising a bigoted owner. I hope and expect the NBAPA to make more than the national media of Sterling’s remarks about how he “gives players food, clothing, and cars.” Those are in many critical respects far more disturbing than his wholly unremarkable race prejudice, and who he deems appropriate company at “his” games. The remarks are substantively similar to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s post-Decision how-dare-he-quit-me rant about LeBron James. This NBA franchise-as-charity metaphor is not a good look. NBA franchises are not charities. They work in partnership with the players, whose compensation they collectively bargain. And regardless, even if NBA franchises were charities, who has bilked the NBA out of more than Donald Sterling? He bilked luxury tax paying teams out of several million per annum for years. His history is that of a net taker. Not a net giver.

What is to be Done? Jerry Colangelo said on Mike & Mike this morning that Sterling had a “rap sheet” that the owners find embarrassing. I think it is fairly safe to say that Colangelo is speaking on behalf of at least a significant subset of NBA owners, who presumably are expected to cede any public comments to the commissioner (and rightfully so). Colangelo’s appearance and candor suggest to me that important people have reached the, “Okay. You’re messing with my money now” breaking point with Donald Sterling.

When someone like Colangelo comes on to do damage control for the owners and then throws salt that’s a strong suggestion that something will get done. Were I commissioner Silver, here’s what I’d look into doing.

(1) Removal from any league committees indefinitely — Sterling should have no hand in setting policy or conducting the business of the league.

(2) Forfeiture of league TV revenues for at least one season — I do not believe Sterling could be forced to sell the team, short of actions directly detrimental to the business interests of the franchise and/or league. Sports franchise ownership is a difficult club to join. I cannot imagine that it’s easy to be thrown out once inside. That kind of structure encourages palace coups, and no one wants that. I would think you’d have to be caught red-handed doing damage to the group. However, it also seems to me that punishments for bad behavior are likely less bound by precedent. The most effective should combine revenue forfeiture with isolation. For that reason I would consider direct forfeiture (or fines equal to) Sterling’s share of the funds from the national TV contract.

 

 

61 comments on “A Few Thoughts on The Donald

  1. DCrockett17 Post author

    Update: Since I wrote this yesterday the Sterling camp has issued a statement claiming that the recordings have been altered/edited to take his remarks out of context.

  2. johnno

    “the Sterling camp has issued a statement claiming that the recordings have been altered/edited to take his remarks out of context.”
    So, by saying that the remarks were taken out of context, he is acknowledging that the voice on the tape is, in fact, his and that he did, in fact, make the comments that were attributed to him (so, we can stop referring to “alleged” racist remarks and now call them simply racist remarks). I’m not sure how he views “out of context” as any kind of defense. I’d like to hear him explain in what context he thinks that it is ok to say, “Don’t hang around with black people in public” and “Don’t bring black people to my games.” My bet is that, if he tries to explain when it’s ok to say those things, he will come across even worse and will sound like even more of a racist jerk.

  3. Frank

    On a different note – here’s a study confirming what we’ve suspected all along:

    http://harvardsportsanalysis.org/?p=4695

    Our beloved Knicks had the least player movement per possession in the league (by far) and also were well below average in passes/possession.

    Steve Kerr, please deliver us from this.

  4. DRed

    Libertarianism concerns the relationship between people and their government. It has nothing to do with the relationship between people who own sports teams.

  5. Farfa

    Again, I think he’s a piss poor sod of a human being, but the racism on display there seems more a PR problem for him than the manifestation of genuine disgust for black people. It is very strange, it’s like he thinks (or knows; as I already wrote, an explanation for that could be that he does business with some KKK-like entity) his business will suffer if he mixes with black people in public.

    I don’t know, I think he should not be officially forced by the League to sell (since that would be a very strong limitation of personal freedom, and I’m against that); he should be forced not to attend in person any single game for the rest of his life, to pay a hefty fine (going to a foundation for anti-racism awareness) and that’s it. Obviously, Silver would be wise to… encourage him to sell that franchise as soon as possible, but Sterling can’t be imposed to sell under any circumstances.

  6. DRed

    I don’t know, I think he should not be officially forced by the League to sell (since that would be a very strong limitation of personal freedom, and I’m against that)

    How is that a limitation on Donald Sterling’s personal freedom? He freely purchased a franchise. That franchise has rules, which he freely acquiesced to. If he violated some of them, he certainly did so freely. What you’re advocating is a freedom from responsibility.

  7. EB

    Why are we taking a libertarian reading of this issue? Seems a rather arbitrary interpretation to take.

  8. lavor postell

    @Dred

    I agree completely. Sterling owns the team, but the team isn’t independent of the NBA and there are some expectations that come with being the owner of a franchise in the NBA. Nobody is saying that Sterling has no right to be racist piece of shit, but just like all other choices we make in life that comes with consequences. On that note I’m disappointed with Cuban’s response which I understand logically, but I thought totally missed the boat on the issues at hand.

  9. Kahnzy

    How is that a limitation on Donald Sterling’s personal freedom? He freely purchased a franchise. That franchise has rules, which he freely acquiesced to. If he violated some of them, he certainly did so freely. What you’re advocating is a freedom from responsibility.

    +1

  10. johnno

    I think that, in the end, it is not going to matter a whole lot what the NBA decides to do to Sterling. I think that market forces are going to force him to sell the team. A number of sponsors have already cancelled or suspended their relationships with the team. Doc Rivers has publicly stated that he doesn’t know if he will be willing to coach the team next year. Once players start demanding trades (please Chris Paul, refuse to play for him; do the right thing and demand to be traded to that bastion of liberty and free speech, the Knicks), and once people start signing petitions, picketing outside the arena and refusing to buy tickets, he won’t have much choice but to sell.

  11. ALLANROSE

    Interesting you think the machinations of a racist scumbag like Donald Sterling is worthy of a “Saturday Night Live” skit. I’m sure perpetuating the legacy of 400 years of lynching, raping and leaving your ancestors with less than a crumb of economic oppourtunity would be a laugh riot. Maybe Keenan Thompson could be flogged in the cold opening, or they could peel the skin off of Jay Pharoah to make a pair of pants. Im a Knick fan living in LA for the past 30 years and Donald Sterling’s reprehensible character and attitude represents everything people died trying to abolish in this country. The Clippers stunk for 35 years because he treated the franchise like a plantation instead of a business. The Hypocracy is the blind eye the NBA (David Stern, 29 other owners) and its sponsors has taken to this monster since he purchased the team in the early Eighties. I’m sure the spirits of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X are yukking it up .

  12. Nick C.

    It all comes down to what the NBA bylaws have to say. While they are both called franchises, I don’t think you could draw the analogy equating the NBA with McDonalds and Sterling with an owner of a McDonalds store.
    As for the “out of context” etc. unless he is going to claim that it was so spliced together and cut as to take his words out of order or omit connective statements (think old Mad magazine gags re: movie reviews) I don’t see it.

  13. DRed

    (please Chris Paul, refuse to play for him; do the right thing and demand to be traded to that bastion of liberty and free speech, the Knicks)

    Now that’s good thinking. Plus, Bargnani is white!

  14. Kahnzy

    Now that’s good thinking. Plus, Bargnani is white!

    It would be nice to be on the good end of an absurdly lopsided trade for once.

  15. Farfa

    How is that a limitation on Donald Sterling’s personal freedom? He freely purchased a franchise. That franchise has rules, which he freely acquiesced to. If he violated some of them, he certainly did so freely. What you’re advocating is a freedom from responsibility.

    Not at all, DRed. I advocate private freedom unless a crime has been committed. Look, I hate with every bone of mine every single thing said by Sterling in that reprehensible phone conversation; still, he was in his perfect, stupid, ignorant right to say all of those things to that lady. I don’t know how the NBA could intervene following a leaked private conversation. If you, privately, were pro-slavery but never did anything to promote it, would it be right to confiscate a possession of yours? I don’t think so. Obviously, I would still hate you profoundly since slavery is an awful, inhuman, unethical and tremendously ignorant thing, but that’s not the point.

    If, for example, Sterling committed a hate crime, then obviously someone could force him to part with some private possession, since he would have committed a crime! But what we’re talking about is a private issue. As you may have noted, I suggested that Silver “privately” persuade him to sell. So I am clearly of the mindset that a Sterling-less NBA would be the best thing. It’s just that I don’t think these circumstances could be used to impose anyone’s will upon anybody. It’s a private matter, and should be treated as such.

  16. joshharrelson

    @Farfa a private matter can have private consequences. The “private matter” has gone public and social retribution is to be expected. There have been public consequences from the private conversation Sterling had. It is not altogether dissimilar than if “V Stiviano” herself had told someone of what the conversation entailed. Would you dismiss a letter that Sterling wrote to someone which encased his distasteful views because it was private? Any conversation had inherently has the chance to become public. If I tell you something, I cannot reasonably expect you to keep it to yourself, even if you promise. I do not mean to argue this could be used in the court of law, but I do argue that it could be used socially, as hearsay often is.

  17. Zanzibar

    Per Woj article:

    Several league officials – including owners and Board of Governors members – told Yahoo Sports they believe Silver has been studying the nuclear option on Sterling: a provision in the NBA’s bylaws that would allow Silver to summon a vote of league owners to strip Sterling of his ownership. The NBA would run the Clippers until the team could be sold.

    I’d be shocked if this doesn’t happen. Sterling’s claim of altered tapes is a last ditch effort to prolong the process hoping the firestorm will fade from the public’s consciousness. The guy needs to go but make no mistake the reason will be that the owners deem he’s now “bad for business”. This guy’s got a history but somehow it didn’t prevent Doc Rivers from taking the coaching job, Chris Paul from signing a contract, NAACP from lavishing awards on him for his donations, the press from looking the other way, and so on. Mark Jackson, a man of supposed “deep faith”, called on Clippers fan to boycott the game. Hmm, Jackson’s fighting to hold onto his job and this is his advice? Think maybe ulterior motive is involved here? It’s all about money, plain and simple, and not really a transcendent moral principle – that is the MOST DEPRESSING PART of this whole Sterling saga over the years.

  18. Brian Cronin

    I do like putting the onus on the other owners. The PR heat would likely lead to them all voting him out.

  19. DRed

    If you, privately, were pro-slavery but never did anything to promote it, would it be right to confiscate a possession of yours? I don’t think so. Obviously, I would still hate you profoundly since slavery is an awful, inhuman, unethical and tremendously ignorant thing, but that’s not the point.

    Who is confiscating Sterling’s possession? Nobody. The Clippers aren’t Sterling’s property the way one of his houses is. He can’t do whatever he wants with the Clippers. The NBA is a private association with it’s own rules. If the NBA has some rules that would allow them to get rid of Sterling, that’s too bad for him. He’s got a contractual relationship with the other owners that he agreed to live up to. If he hasn’t, it’s not some sort of injustice for him to lose the team.

  20. Nick C.

    I would like to think there is a way for the other owners to force him to sell. On a more minor note I really do not want to see the taper/”ex-mistress” getting any benefit from this either.

  21. Kahnzy

    If you, privately, were pro-slavery but never did anything to promote it, would it be right to confiscate a possession of yours? I don’t think so.

    So Stetling has the right to be a moron and run his business as he sees fit. Actually, I disagree with this sentiment because if we actually all followed this idea we’d still have segregation; sometimes doing the right thing is more important.

    Anyway, that’s the premise for your argument. If we were talking about the United States federal government getting involved, you might have a case. However, in this case we have one private business entity (the NBA) and their relationship with one of their business partners. In your rush to defend Donald Sterling’s right to be an idiot, you deny the NBA their right to sever ties with a toxic business partner. If Sterling has the right to run his business his way, doesn’t the NBA retain that same right? Maybe they can’t directly take the team from him, but they can certainly make it such that Sterling never profits from it every again and they have that right just as much as Sterling has his right to be a scum-bag (if not more so).

  22. DRed

    So Bargs + JR Smith for Chris Paul works in the trade machine. Bargs b/c I think he’s a Sterling type of player, and JR because he probably has no idea this whole thing is happening. Let’s do it, Phil.

  23. Nick C.

    Sterling is reprehensible, certainly, but there something almost frightening about the push to act against someone on the basis of words and only words. He’s a troll and a dolt, for sure, but what of wife beaters, non child support payers, drunk drivers, negligent homicide. Where is the line and why? There is a reason for the phrase “hard cases make bad law.” Here the bylaws presumably will establish certain rules or conduct he can be said to have violated, and agreed to, but that seems to be an afterthought to some and that is not real comforting in the abstract.

  24. johnno

    “NAACP from lavishing awards on him”
    To me, this is by far the most bizarre part of this story. Everyone is now claiming that Sterling had a history of racist behavior, and a lot of people are complaining that the media and the NBA ignored it for decades. And the NAACP not only ignored his behavior, but they were giving him awards?? How strange is that??

    “Now that’s good thinking.”
    Thanks DRed. It’s not often that you give me credit for good thinking…

  25. Farfa

    Just to be crystal clear: if the NBA bylaws consent what Woj is reporting, then by all means strip the franchise from Sterling! That would be a pact agreed by him as well, so double shame on him (for being a fucking moron and for being in violation of that pact).

    But just to go on with my rants from a philosophical/social study point of view:

    So Sterling has the right to be a moron and run his business as he sees fit. Actually, I disagree with this sentiment because if we actually all followed this idea we’d still have segregation; sometimes doing the right thing is more important.

    I actually think he has this right privately if he does not go against the LAWS against discrimination. I’m not saying he can do whatever he wants in his house: if something is illegal he can’t, even in his privacy. If (well, when) he discriminates people on the job, then he can’t do it and has to be fined or worse. If he makes some racist comment with another jerk during coffee break and nobody hears them, well, shame on him but we can’t do anything about it.

    What I’m trying to say is: if the NBA has the means in its bylaws to support and promote ethical issues even in the private lives of its owners, that’s wonderful and Sterling should be kicked to the curb. If not, then nobody has the official authority to strip Sterling of his possessions.

    I do like putting the onus on the other owners. The PR heat would likely lead to them all voting him out.

    Yes, yes, yes.

  26. mokers

    I’m agreeing with Dred on this one. Sterling’s words here didn’t violate any local, state or federal laws, but just because you didn’t violate a law doesn’t mean the NBA can’t take action. The NBA owners can decide that they want nothing to do with him and as long as they follow their own bylaws, they are within their rights to kick Donald Sterling out. Donald Sterling is then within his rights to pursue another sports franchise. He is within his rights to start his own basketball league with rules that don’t kick him out for saying things in private.

  27. johnlocke

    also with most of Dred’s comments re: Sterling. A libertarian interpretation of his conduct is in relation to him and the US gov’t, not to him and a private entity to which he freely agreed to enter into a set of rules — one of which I assume is, no owner shall do anything that will severely damage the overall brand of his franchise and therefore the NBA. This has now gone beyond an image issue since the corporate sponsors are rightly pulling away their sponsorships. As Dred I believe said, private actions can have public consequences. What is really surprising / disheartening is that it took cold, hard visceral evidence to get the media and everyday fan to pay attention to his long evidence of racial acrimony and discrimination, and misogyny. There is not a lot that is funny about this.

    Regarding the inherent contradictions referenced by the poster, when you’re a delusional racist, things like logic and consistency are luxuries. There are many examples of this logic gap / inconsistency if you study the history of slavery and prejudice.

  28. The Infamous Cdiggy

    If racism in-and-of-itself were illegal, then the government could legally disband the KKK instead of them just hiding out in scattered groups throughout the States. While I do believe in legality and due process, we have to remember that legal process is not without gaps and failure, and um, Jim Crow was legal once upon a time, ya dig?

    Racism is a moral and socio-cultural issue (to start). It effects the very fabric of our culture and our moral values, which can be said shapes law. Can you throw Sterling in jail? No. But far worse can and should happen. Public economic sanctions and the league moving behind the scenes to remove him is just punishment. A man in jail can still own property, businesses and make money; so the reverse is we as the public take away Sterling’s ability to make money and devalue his businesses so that his profits take a dive.

    As an aside: I know Sterling’s discrimination lawsuits were sort-of on the DL as far as the national landscape goes, but the NAACP should really know better. In the articles I’ve read over the past couple of days, he really has a institutional thing against Black people. He’s gotta go.

  29. johnlocke

    @ Lavor,

    Completely agree re: Cuban missing the point in his comments on the slippery slope of dismissing an owner based on what he thinks / being an idiot — to use his words, however:

    1) this is not a one-time issue, sterling has a history and it’s not just based on idiotic words, but also harmful action
    2) this issue is now in the court of public opinion: good luck with a team that can’t sign free agents and can’t get sponsors and loses fans –> there was once a time when this court would have been in agreement with Sterling and this would not have been a big deal –> progress
    3) if the NBA does not act seriously, it is tacitly approving of this behavior, and could harm it’s overall brand and revenues
    4) slippery slope arguments are the easiest arguments to invoke and usually miss the mark

  30. lavor postell

    @johnlocke

    Exactly. I seriously want to know what players would sign on to play there if Sterling were to stay in charge.

  31. lavor postell

    Wow Adam Silver really laying down the hammer. Lifetime ban, $2.5m maximum fine and he’s urging the NBA Board of Governors to force the sale of the Clippers.

  32. Brian Cronin

    Silver went nuclear. Banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and finally put the onus on the owners to kick Sterling out. They have to do it. The PR hit would be huge for them all.

  33. Nick C.

    Good for Silver and the league. The sooner Sterling and his former pet can go back under their rocks and never be heard from again the better. Is this the first force out/ban for the NBA or did they do it with Ted Septien?

  34. johnlocke

    yeh that was the nuclear option for sure… silver brought out the big stick and handling this as he needs to, in the best interests of the league

  35. Frank

    Adam Silver is a BOSS. Dude is in office for all of 5 minutes and everyone’s already forgotten about David Stern. Great job — no way to handle this other than to blow it out of the water. Players and fans are going to love this.

  36. MarvsTeeth

    1) Sterling did nothing illegal. He cannot be punished by the law. And I think that is right.
    2) I find it morally disgusting that someone he was close to recorded him without his knowledge. If he knew about it, then I do not find it as disgusting. This is being lost in the narrative. We’ve all said bad things amongst those we trusted most and would each be publicly vilified if our “worst moments” tape was run for the world to hear. I sympathize with him on this front – not for his views, but for his situation, as I would with any other human in this situation.
    3) I disagree with his viewpoints and find them to be strange given the multiracial nature of the NBA. The NBA would be much better off without him involved in the league whatsoever. I won’t use terms like “shocking, disgusting, abhorrent” etc., because even though I disagree with him, let’s not get our panties in a bunch and pretend that there aren’t millions of racists out there, particularly among the elderly white man demographic. Anyone surprised by this, particularly given Sterling’s history, is being a histrionic idiot.
    4) The NBA has the rights to do whatever it is legally able to in order to respond to this mess. Sterling is hurting the overall image and revenues for the NBA by being around after this leak, whether or not the leak was fair or not. Silver chose to “ban” him from operations, fine him, and suggest his dismissal as an owner. This is all within their rights. Subjectively, I think this was the best possible move Silver could have made. If there is conflict over whether the NBA has the right to kick him out of owning a team, it will go to court and the court will decide what the right decision is.

    I think that about sums it up.

  37. thenamestsam

    Have to say I strongly, strongly disagree with the notion that she’s a “scumbag” for doing what she did. She accomplished an extremely good thing in the only way it was possible to do it. If she had not recorded him and had just come out and said that he said the things he did nothing would have happened. I fail to see how she’s any different from your average whistleblower, and such people deserve our praise, not our scorn. If you’re saying things bad enough in private to ruin you if they ever became public you should strongly reconsider whatever notions you have about what kind of person you are.

  38. mokers

    She’s not exactly a whistleblower. If Sterling had paid her, we would have had to wait until the next gold-digger had recorded him and then didn’t get paid.

  39. Brian Cronin

    Why are you listening to SAS?

    I was watching ESPN’s coverage and he came on to the show.

  40. EB

    What are the legal grounds for Silver’s punishment. I’m all for the life ban and 2.5 million dollar fine, but it seems legally questionable to punish someone under free speech. What are the terms the owner’s agree to and can they be used to remove Sterling as an owner?

  41. Brian Cronin

    She’s not exactly a whistleblower. If Sterling had paid her, we would have had to wait until the next gold-digger had recorded him and then didn’t get paid.

    Exactly. The fact that she is an awful person has nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is Sterling’s racism. She isn’t the owner of an NBA team, so it doesn’t matter whether she’s an awful person.

  42. Brian Cronin

    What are the legal grounds for Silver’s punishment. I’m all for the life ban and 2.5 million dollar fine, but it seems legally questionable to punish someone under free speech. What are the terms the owner’s agree to and can they be used to remove Sterling as an owner?

    He is totally covered on his end. He has pretty much total power to ban Sterling. As for the owners thing, they can remove a fellow owner if they do not conduct themselves “reasonably” and “ethically.” So they’re likely legally covered, as well.

  43. lavor postell

    The NBA is like a club. It’s not a court. They can ban somebody for hurting the image of the league, it’s profitability and for being a reprehensible human being.

  44. EB

    I’m not questioning the NBA’s due process. That said, they must have some binding contract that dictates what powers Silver does and does not have and I don’t know the language of that contract.

  45. MarvsTeeth

    Yup – it all comes down to the NBA contract and rules. If they can kick him out legally given the NBA rules, they probably should.

    I do not believe that racists should ever be legally punished for expressing their views, particularly in private. No matter how terrible their views are. America was built on free speech. That does not mean free speech only when you agree with it.

    Most importantly, I think that Sterling would sell regardless of the NBA ruling due to the tremendous backlash from the market with respect to player/coach signings, endorsement deal withdrawal, fan boycotting, and public shaming. However, forcing him to sell makes this less of a distraction and will prevent it from dragging on and creating negative NBA news when it can be avoided.

  46. Brian Cronin

    SAS actually doing a good job now with Jemele Hill, arguing about how it is hard to rip on the NBA for not taking issue with Sterling in the past when the NAACP gave the guy not one, but two, awards.

  47. Brian Cronin

    Here’s a question – what if Sterling divorces his wife? Can she keep the team? Would the owners let her?

  48. johnlocke

    what Lavor said. @Marvsteeth — the fact that his gf recorded him (she claims she did not release to the media) is irrelevant and frankly is just a red herring. This guy has a trail of tasteless behavior and discriminatory actions that go beyond just this recording. It was only that this time there was hard, visible evidence that couldn’t be “settled” or paid for with donations to the NAACP, that brought public opinion to bear. Public opinion is what brought Stern down. That is what led the sponsors and then the NBA to take such strong and immediate action.

  49. johnno

    “I do not believe that racists should ever be legally punished for expressing their views”
    But this is not a “legal” punishment. This is a market driven business punishment. The two are very different. Legal notions of “free speech,” “due process,” “innocent until proven guilty” and the “right to remain silent” apply in court, not in real life and not in most business transactions. For example, I bet that most people don’t realize that, if they work for a company and the company is doing an internal investigation, most companies have a policy that says that the employees HAVE to cooperate, and the mere refusal to answer questions is grounds for termination. I am very much a libertarian when it comes to free speech. I believe that everyone has an absolute right to express his views, no matter how disgusting I might think that those views are. However, I also think that everyone should expect that there might be ramifications if their views aren’t popular. A number of years ago, the Dixie Chicks publicly criticized George Bush. Some right wing commentators were outraged — How dare they criticize the president! A group of Bush supporters then organized a boycott of Dixie Chicks concerts and a number of left wing media members were outraged — How dare the right wing try to suppress the Dixie Chicks’s free speech! I disagree with both. I think that the Dixie Chicks had every right to make their views known. However, I also think that the people who disagreed with those views had every right to make their views known by organizing boycotts. Here, Donald Sterling made his views known to someone who, unfortunately for him, made his views public. Bad break for him. So, he has to live with the consequences. I have no sympathy for him.

  50. Farfa

    Perfect move by Silver (even putting the onus on the owners to kick Sterling to the curb). And how strong did he seems while pronouncing his words. Do you all think Stern would have issued things the same way? Me neither.

    Just one thing: how these words (my own comment, no. 6) differ from what Silver did? And why some thought my views were so… libertarian?:

    “I don’t know, I think he should not be officially forced by the League to sell (since that would be a very strong limitation of personal freedom, and I’m against that); he should be forced not to attend in person any single game for the rest of his life, to pay a hefty fine (going to a foundation for anti-racism awareness) and that’s it. Obviously, Silver would be wise to… encourage him to sell that franchise as soon as possible, but Sterling can’t be imposed to sell under any circumstances.”

  51. The Infamous Cdiggy

    AMEN!!!!

    Silver put the hammer down. He got all the info via due process and acted swiftly, decisively, and with appropriate authority.

    To those who questioned the legalities of punishing someone for racist views: no, you can’t lock someone up, but instead this is what you must do.

  52. nicos

    Actively discriminate against Blacks and Latinos in your real estate business- no problem. Tell your girlfriend you don’t want her to post photos of herself with black people to instagram- lifetime ban. I’m all for getting rid of Sterling but it should have been done years ago- the NBA isn’t responding to Sterling’s racism, they’ve known about that since at least 2009; they’re responding to a PR problem.

  53. DCrockett17 Post author

    Apologies for being unable to get back in on the conversation earlier, end of semester and all that rot. I scrolled through the comments after Silver’s decision.

    1. The ban and fine were to be expected.
    2. The forced sale says to me that Sterling simply has no allies among ownership.
    I strongly suspect that many of them have wanted Sterling out for some time, but simply had nothing actionable until now. It’s worth noting that Sterling basically stole from them for years. Colangelo yesterday was surprisingly undiplomatic as was Paul Allen. There’s no way Silver comes out and takes that kind of stance without getting the go ahead from a group of the most powerful owners.

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