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What penalties might Adam Silver bring down on Donald Sterling?

Apr 29, 2014, 4:57 AM EDT

NBA commissioner Adam Silver will step to a podium in Manhattan Tuesday to clean up a mess that David Stern and the NBA owners should have dealt with years ago — when there were more actionable items, more egregious actions that should have brought sanctions and pressure on Donald Sterling to sell, rather than having the situation swept under the rug and ignored.

It falls on Silver to deal with racist comments allegedly made by Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

But what might Silver do? What will he say when he steps to that podium?

The best guess of most around the league is an indefinite suspension — Sterling can’t be involved with running the team nor may he attend their games or be around the team and franchise — as well as a fine of $1 million (or $2.5 million, depending on what part of the NBA’s constitution you are reading). Honestly the suspension part, keeping Sterling away from basking in the celebrity of owning a team, will be a bigger blow to him than the money.

What most people want — and that group seems to now include the other owners as well as people in the league office — is to get Sterling out. To get him to sell.

But can the league sell a team out from under an owner against his will? ESPN’s legal analyst Lester Munson is one of the few non-owners to have seen the NBA constitution, and he says yes.

Under the terms of Paragraph 13 of the constitution, the owners can terminate another owner’s franchise with a vote of three-fourths of the NBA Board of Governors, which is composed of all 30 owners. The power to terminate is limited to things like gambling and fraud in the application for ownership, but it also includes a provision for termination when an owner “fails to fulfill” a “contractual obligation” in “such a way as to affect the [NBA] or its members adversely.” Silver and the owners could assert that Sterling’s statements violated the constitution’s requirements to conduct business on a “reasonable” and “ethical” level.

What you can be sure of is that Sterling’s lawyers would assert this situation — where he will not be charged with a crime, this is a private matter — does not meet the standard of failing to fulfill a contract. Sterling is litigious and someone that does not sell or give up his properties — don’t expect him to be embarrassed or think of the good of the game. This is a guy who has had multiple former coaches have to sue him to get all the money they were owed in their contract. He likes a good fight, even if he knows he is in the wrong.

Munson says that Sterling could try to sue but likely will not have luck because of how the constitution is worded.

Nonetheless, Silver would prefer to not to have a long, public, messy court battle. Which is why the idea of a suspension and fine, giving the league time to try and pressure Sterling into deciding to sell is the most logical.

We will see if a fine and a suspension is enough for the players, enough to turn the focus for the league back on the court and away from the circus surrounding one owner.

  1. goraidersgospurs - Apr 29, 2014 at 5:36 AM

    Best thing the league could do is aloud all clippers players to become free agents after the season, if sterling does not want to sale!!!

    • spursareold - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Yeah, OK Les.

    • daviddmsvcp - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      Well, I feel sorry for him. First, he had a private conversation with his girl friend and that was recorded and published. Ouch.

      Second, well, how many of you guys would want your wives or girl friends going around in public with a black man?

      Just saying. Think about it.

  2. abchome - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    Can Light Yagami write his name on Dealth Note?

  3. deeballer - Apr 29, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    The man has a couple of billion dollars. He gives her some Rolls Royces and a Ferrari, but all she really needed was a good orthodontist for that nasty overbite.

  4. void96eater - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Just saying, her face is so artificial.

  5. joenash72 - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    So there goes another $1 or $2.5 million of the community property to pay Donald’s fines.

    Poor, poor Shelly Sterling.

  6. officialgame - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    I no the type, done business deals with that type and the only thing that works against that type is loss of money. Sterling doesn’t need money but he thrives on winning the game. After the NBA fines and suspends him the coaches must quit, the GM. must quit, the players one by one must leave as their contracts expire, free agents don’t sign, and most importantly fans stop buying tickets to games. Sterling must be made irrelevant and his team as worthless as him.

    • spursareold - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Unfortunately, CP3 and Blake just re-upped. Sterling has them locked up for 3 more seasons at the minimum.

  7. haaaaasoooooo - Apr 29, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    Is it just me, or is the woman sitting behind them absolutely gorgeous? She really makes V look below average.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Probably because V is below average. Fakeness is not attractive.

    • pharohislife - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      They both look funny to me.

      • willkill4caffeine - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        the one sitting behind is definitely better than V, but it’s her lips that throws her entire face off for me. They look like they’ve been altered…and not for the better.

  8. tominma - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    After suspending Sterling, the NBA should make every effort within the bylaws to force him to sell the team! Don’t know if they can, but they should try!

  9. katra2logic - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    V must be a ‘spinner’, Donald is looking old, old, old…

  10. grumpyoleman - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    Who is the dude sitting next to Donald?

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