The NBA announced Tuesday that Donald Sterling has been banned for life and fined $2.5 million. Commissioner Adam Silver also said he would ask the league’s Board of Governors to do everything in their power to force the sale of the team.
“The discipline issued today is based on the Commissioner’s conclusion that Mr. Sterling violated league rules through his expressions of offensive and hurtful views, the impact of which has been widely felt throughout the league,” the NBA said in a statement.
Now the questions become:
1.) Will the NBA’s owners back Silver? Initial reaction from owners on Twitter suggests they will. Heck, even the Clippers — the team that still is technically owned by Sterling — seems to agree with the decision.
Clippers statement: “We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and…Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins.”— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) April 29, 2014
On ownership super majority needed to vote Sterling out, one Board of Governor tells Yahoo: ″Adam has the votes - all of them, I believe.”— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 29, 2014
2.) Will Sterling take the NBA to court? History says he just might.
In 1981, Sterling purchased the Clippers, who were then located in San Diego. Three years later, emboldened by Al Davis’s move of the Oakland Raiders to Los Angeles, Sterling did the same. The NBA was not happy.
“When N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern fined him $25 million, Sterling sued the league for $100 million. Stern cut the fine to $6 million, taking it out of Sterling’s cut from expansion fees,” the New York Times recounted earlier this week.
To put this another way: For moving a team up the coast in 1984, Sterling was fined $25 million ($57.5 million in 2014 money), sued for $100 million ($230 million in 2014 money) and ended up paying — or not receiving, really — $6 million ($13.8 million in 2014 money). For making a racist statement in 2014, he was banned for life and fined $2.5 million. It’s almost like the NBA is daring him to sue, even though Sterling would face a nearly impossible legal battle, ESPN is saying.
Jim Gray of Fox News is reporting that Sterling told him “the team is not for sale. He will not be selling the team.” Of course, this conversation happened before the NBA announced its punishment, and Gray said Sterling was not aware of what the punishment would be.
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