After the firestorm that erupted over Donald Sterling’s racially charged comments, the last thing NBA executives and players want is for him to still be the owner of the Clippers when the 2014-15 season begins. Even if LeBron James, or anyone else, doesn’t lead a boycott, continued ownership by Sterling would mean an ongoing public relations nightmare for the league, not to mention an ongoing legal migraine.
However, there are indications that events are heading in that exact direction. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said today that there was no guarantee that the $2 billion sale of the Clippers will go through in time for next season.
Silver says he isn’t sure when Clippers ownership transfer will happen because of the ongoing legal proceedings.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) July 16, 2014
From a report by the Los Angeles Times:
Silver said the league would move to terminate Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers if a Los Angeles Superior Court judge eventually ruled that his wife did not act accordingly in finding a buyer for the franchise.
The league never took a vote to officially end Donald’s ownership because of the speed with which Shelly Sterling, a co-owner of the team, sold it to Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer in May.
“If the probate ruling doesn’t go in our favor, we will re-commence our procedures under termination,” Silver said.
Sterling and his wife, Shelly, are currently locked in a legal battle over Shelly’s attempt to have Donald declared mentally incompetent, thus giving her the power to sell the Clippers to Ballmer. Sterling, no stranger to courtrooms, immediately became combative on the stand, and there is every indication that he will use his considerable wiles to delay any ruling, making the lives of his wife, Silver and everyone beside his well-paid attorneys miserable. The trial was to have concluded last week, but the judge moved closing arguments to July 28.
Ballmer’s $2 billion offer technically has already expired, but a provision is in place to extend the negotiations another month. Ballmer and Silver were both at a meeting of the NBA’s board of governors today. The billionaire reiterated his desire to buy the Clippers while being interviewed by the league’s finance committee. And that wasn’t the only news that Silver had to offer:
A midseason tournament would give teams a chance to win a title other than the NBA Finals and it would also add interest to the league #NBA
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) July 16, 2014
Silver said the tournament could be in Las Vegas, which would add plenty of interest, especially among folks who work in social media. Actually, Silver sounded really determined to put something in Sin City; he also floated the idea of an NBA awards ceremony there.
But if you are in Vegas now, you might not want to put a bet down just yet on somebody other than Donald Sterling owning the Clippers next season.