Banned for a lifetime
But the racist will profit
When he sells the team
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is rightfully being lauded for taking the most severe action that was within his power. L.A. Clippers owner, and "alleged" racist, Donald Sterling has been banned from the NBA for life, fined $2.5 million and may be forced to sell "his" team.
Still, it's frustrating that Sterling's "punishment" could include a nearly $1 billion profit from selling the Clippers. The team has increased in value by hundreds of millions of dollars. But that is due in large part to the increased values of NBA franchises generally and (despite Sterling's statement to his
mistress girlfriend that he makes the games) the hard work of the players and coaches on the court. It is in much smaller part due to anything Sterling did - which was basically write checks.
Yes, there's concern that a private conversation was made public. And it's disappointing that the NBA didn't act earlier when facts about Sterling's racist behavior became public. Not to mention the NAACP which should be ashamed their Los Angeles chapter was about to honor Sterling (again!) because he was a generous donor. A separate story could be written for each of those issues. (Click on the links in the previous sentence to read some).
But what keeps coming to mind is whether or not there's a way to avoid allowing Sterling to profit from a sale of the Clippers to new owners. I don't know if NBA rules or United States law would allow it, but in a perfect world maybe the league could do this:
(1) Terminate any agreement that allows the L.A. Clippers to participate as a franchise of the National Basketball Association
(2) Create a new franchise for an "expansion" team in Los Angeles and seek investors for the new team.
(3) Allow players who have contracts with the no-longer-allowed-to-compete Clippers to negotiate contracts with other NBA teams - including, of course, the new LA franchise.
The NBA owners wouldn't have to force Sterling to sell the team. They'd just refuse to let any team he owns be a part of their basketball league. The empty shell that is called the Clippers would still be owned by Sterling and he'd be free to try to sell his worthless asset to anyone who would buy it.
Would it be messy? Probably. Is this schadenfreude? Of course. Is it possible? I'm not sure. But it would certainly be sweet justice.
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