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Report: NBA probably can’t simply force Donald Sterling to sell Clippers

Apr 26, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

If the NBA’s investigation into Donald Sterling’s alleged comments corroborates the TMZ report, then what?

That’s the giant elephant in the room.

As much as everyone wants Sterling to get his just due – whatever they feel that may be – there are rules in place. That’s part of the reason Adam Silver wouldn’t address specific consequences.

Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated:

Forcibly removing Sterling from the NBA is unlikely to happen. The NBA’s constitution, which is confidential, reportedly contains language permitting owners to authorize the league to sell a team without an owner’s consent. The language, is told, only covers very limited circumstances and these circumstances concern team finances — namely, when an owner can’t pay his bills.

There is reportedly no language authorizing the NBA to sell a team because of an owner’s hurtful remarks or embarrassing behavior. Even if constitutional language could be construed to authorize a forced sale of the Clippers, NBA owners would likely be reluctant to do so given the precedent it would set.

In theory, Silver and the NBA’s other owners can take any actions they see fit. Maybe those actions even violate the league’s constitution. Sterling always has the recourse of pursuing legal avenues himself if he feels they do.

Or maybe he goes quietly into the night, cashing out on a franchise that would surely draw many bidders. He and the NBA can always agree to bypass the league’s constitution.

The rules are in place, and they can influence what happens next. But so much remains uncertain.

  1. fearthehoody - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    I really wish people would find the facts aka the entire story before judging. He States he likes minorities, no problem with them. He is implying his associates probably business partners do not want people sterling knows to be associated with minorities. Is that still bad? Yes, but not what the media and sheep reacting to headline are saying

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      First, listen to the audio and his tone when he says it’s fine if she hangs out with blacks. Second, he has a long history of actions here.

      • tigerpork - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:28 AM

        Third, Sterling grandfather owned a plantation.

    • Professor Fate - Apr 27, 2014 at 2:05 AM

      Only sheep I see here is a Clipper fan baaaaing in Sterling’s defense.

  2. jucam1 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    I know he owns the team, and I know he has the right to think what he wants. However, you have to look at this as a joint business. He has 29 other partners, they have a sport and a brand to uphold. Aside from the obvious racism repercussions the league has to deal with here, don’t you have enough of a history with this DBag idiot, that you have to force him to sell?… If the players in the offseason come together to boycott, the league is gonna have a public nightmare on their hands. Sterling is even worse than Snyder who makes his brand more hated by the day by not understanding how bad their actions are.

    • rh316 - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      The players can’t boycott without violating their contracts.

  3. fearthehoody - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    When Sterling mentions culture, he is referring to his business partners who have a lot at stake in his businesses. They are the racist ones who don’t like seeing one of their partners girlfriends with minorities. Sterling states he has to live in that culture (business world aka how he makes money) so he is probably saying what he did to please them for appearance. But don’t count on the media for all the angles of the story.

    • sabatimus - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:22 AM

      That is so much speculation and perhaps even invention.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 27, 2014 at 2:08 AM

      I don’t think that’s the case at all, and even if it was it doesn’t justify what he said. If that were me I would tell my business partners to go f— themselves. So that’s a very poor excuse.

    • madnova - Apr 27, 2014 at 3:00 AM


      Just google “Donald Sterling Rascist”. This isn’t even his worst offense.

      Here’s some lowlights:

  4. eugenesaxe1 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    “In the best interests of the NBA”

    Get the advertisers and the networks calling for his head, it’ll get done.

  5. tomtravis76 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:19 PM

    Its 2014, the NBA shouldn’t be dealing with this mess. The clippers players, while not really a viable course of action, should make a statement and refuse to take the court as well as the warriors players. What’s the league going to do, give them both a loss in the playoff series? Sure fines would be dished out, but the players can dispute them. The players need to stand up for what is right, they make sterling a ton of money, and he thinks of his black employees nothing more than the slave owners thought of black people.

    • pukpokito - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      You make great points.BUT why put the burden on the players.any practice or games missed they won’t get paid in cases like this.Remember that CP3 is President of NBAPU and Green is in the is a delicate situation.We shall see how Adam Silver handles this.But either way, Donald Sterling needs to sell this team.He has had a bad history.He needs to do the right thing and sell.

    • rh316 - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      They legally are contracted to be available to participate in any game they are cleared medically to. They would be in violation of their contracts and the league and Donald Sterling could void them. Some would be giving up a lot of money.

  6. mightbegoingtohellforthis - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    There is no rule allowing removal of an owner whose conduct is detrimental to the league?

  7. davidly - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    Players need to have protections and recourse, too. In order to play in the NBA, most of them have no choice for whom they are going to play. There’s a problem with that that should have legal ramifications outside the purview of the league and its secret articles of security, particularly when the actions of one owner can affect the livelihood of his contract players.

  8. fearthehoody - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    Where did Sterling say he thinks of his players as a slave owner does? You sir and the likes of you, are perfect for message board clutter! Sterling is so racist he was gonna be honored by NAACP. He is so racist he hired and promoted Elgin Baylor as Clippers gm for 22 years. It seems as if I’m a Sterling fan, I’m not, it’d a must that people ho beyond headlines, and a copy/paste world of media outlet opinions.

    • musician0785 - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      “He is so racist he hired and promoted Elgin Baylor as Clippers gm for 22 years”

      Its obvious you’re a Clipper fan trying to gloss over the overt Racism from your slumlord of a owner…how pathetic

    • 5xchamp24 - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:52 AM

      Just say what most racists say. “My best friend is black”

    • tomtravis76 - Apr 27, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      You have every right to your own viewpoint. Did you know that Hitler as well as rush Limbaugh were nominated for a nobel peace prize? Would you want to work for someone or be in business with someone who dislikes you for the color of your skin? Does sterling wear a klan hood ,no, but he allegedly thinks black people can hurt his wallet when not running up and down the court.

  9. vstyle23 - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    I’m black. Ok that covered, here’s what I heard or felt about what I heard. Some of my friends think your sleeping with every lack person your in pictures with and hanging out with and calling me telling me, see I told you about that girl. I’m tired of hearing that. If your going to hang out with them don’t do it in a public setting. I’m getting killed over it.

    • loungefly74 - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      i enjoyed the honest interpretation.

  10. crillbill - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:58 AM

    I wonder if this will affect his NAACP lifetime achievement award he is to receive in the next few weeks

    • Kevin S. - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:28 AM

      It’s already been pulled.

  11. timb12 - Apr 27, 2014 at 1:44 AM

    Do you think people would be calling for his job if he didn’t have a reputation as an inept owner? I don’t think that it helps.

    • tuberippin - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:16 AM

      Yes, because he has a reputation as a racist owner.

      • timb12 - Apr 27, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        Even outside of the racist stuff. If he was a prolific owner, I really think this thing would play out a little differently where he’d only have to go to sensitivity training or something. Just like in the Aldon Smith stuff.

  12. marcusfitzhugh - Apr 27, 2014 at 2:18 AM

    It’s not up to the NBA or the players, the onus is on the fans. Simply stop attending ALL Clipper games and refuse to watch their games on TV. This will hurt Clipper opponents as well, but that’s their problem. Will it happen? I doubt it because most people talk a lot but don’t want to be inconvenienced. In that case, the fans get what they deserve. Some will say he’s innocent until proven guilty, but they must ignore his past to say that.

  13. daddyghi - Apr 27, 2014 at 5:16 AM

    I think Marc Cuban’s record on fines is about to be broken

  14. mnsadsportsfan - Apr 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Both of them looked like they used the same plastic surgeon.

  15. rh316 - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    He won’t sell and the league can’t make him. He’s got a history of suing people and winning.

  16. stesse89 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    Wait a minute, isn’t he dating someone who is black??

  17. loungefly74 - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    punishment = therapy…a long suspension…$1 million fine…and that is it. unfortunately.

  18. byjiminy - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    It doesn’t matter what the league constitution says, because if they wanted to, the owners could simply amend the constitution.

    If they don’t eject Sterling, which they absolutely should, it’s because they don’t want to.

  19. byjiminy - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    On the bright side, if all his sponsors dump him, he may have to sell!

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