Despite the dubious evidence and the questionable manner in which it was obtained, Adam Silver threw the NBA’s weight behind the racial reactionaries and their facilitators in the solipsistic sports media. He has no case to give Donald Sterling the boot. Forbes reports:
The NBA’s basic case, according to legal experts, is a breach of contract claim. The league would argue that Sterling simply violated the NBA bylaws by running afoul of a morals clause, which is a largely broad clause that speaks to conduct that can be considered detrimental to the league. Sterling could certainly fight that approach, arguing that a league looking to force someone out could stretch a morals clause to include almost anything it likes, and that this action represents a draconian step.
“It’s an unprecedented case, Sterling could argue that he didn’t violate an express provision (i.e. no specific violation),” says Matthew Mitten, Director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University. Sterling might also incite what’s called a “fair dealing” provision – that the league, by forcing him to sell his property on the basis of a private, illegally taped conversation, isn’t acting in good faith.
Another sports attorney, Lee Hutton of Zelle Hofmann in Minneapolis, who very much sides with Sterling, is even more succinct: “There’s a pause because the owners are no doubt sitting there trying to figure out ‘how in the world are we going to force Sterling to sell based on these bylaws?’.”
The team owners could also be squeamish about setting a standard to which they will be held in the future. It has to be unsettling knowing the NBA can forcibly divest you of your property in favor of the politically correct and connected. To avoid perking Big Brother’s ears, they’ll have to guard their speech in the ostensible privacy of their own homes. That’s a powerful disincentive to owning an NBA team, and a significant downward pressure on a team’s value. If they can’t agree to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, Magic Johnson, Al Sharpton, et al. will turn up the heat, and then their fire will turn on each other, especially Silver.
Radar Online has more illegally obtained audio of Sterling. (It seems he can’t trust anyone to keep their conversations private.)
Referencing the Instagram photo of Stiviano with Magic Johnson that sparked the whole brouhaha, a defeated Sterling said, “It breaks my heart that Magic Johnson, a guy that I respect so much, wouldn’t stand up and say, ‘Well let’s get the facts. Let’s get him and talk to him.’ Nobody tried. Nobody!”
The facts are second rate. Let the powers decide what two and two add up to.
There’s one more problem. Having banned Sterling for life, Silver has essentially taken over the business operation of the Clippers, who are in the middle of a playoff run. The pall of “alleged” racism hangs over every game. The NBA has every incentive to milk the Sterling drama for TV ratings, as do the media, as shown by this ESPN headline: “Are Clippers currently ‘America’s Team?’” A deep postseason run was possible for the Clippers anyway, but a perception of being “America’s team” is enough for referees to swing a closely contested, critical game their way.