Skip to content

With latest interview, case to remove Donald Sterling grows stronger

May 13, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, his wife Shelly, and actor George Segal attend the NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Reuters

On Monday, the day LeBron James dropped 49 points in a playoff game in New York, the big NBA story was what Donald Sterling said about Magic Johnson, and about how Sterling is 100 percent sure the players still love him (the same players that wore their warm-ups inside out and were ready to boycott a game because of him).

On Sunday, the day of maybe the biggest and most dramatic win in Clipper franchise history, the big NBA story was early leaked comments from Donald’s interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. After that it was Shelly Sterling sitting down in an interview to try and distance herself from her husband of 58 years and say she would fight to keep control of the team. The team came in third.

Right now the Sterlings are stealing the spotlight from the players, team and league they claim they love. They are making themselves the story. Which is exactly who they always have been, something that was always obvious when the media room at Staples Center became “Club Sterling” before Clippers games, with one or both of the Sterlings holding court with their “friends.” As ESPN’s J.A. Adande said perfectly, the Sterlings don’t love the Clippers, they love owning the Clippers.

This parade of Sterling interviews not ending soon, Shelly is scheduled to be on The Today Show Tuesday peddling her “I’m just the poor, innocent wife” routine (which is far from the truth).

All of this just strengthens the case to remove them.

It certainly seems to have hardened public support against them (at least based on social media responses).

The league’s case is built around the clause in the franchise agreement that Sterling signed saying he would not engage in unethical conduct or take “positions that have a materially adverse effect on the league.”

In plain language — don’t say things that mess with the bottom line. This is all about the money. It’s convenient that the league’s moral outrage can tie into this, but if it was moral outrage alone the league could have acted years ago. Now there is a new commissioner, but also money is involved.

Sterling’s racist rant, whether he intended it to be public or not, messed with the bottom line — sponsors have pulled away from his team, players have threatened a boycott, and here we are in the middle of the playoffs not talking about the playoffs.

Every time one of the Sterlings’ opens their mouth, the case against them gets stronger because they hurt the league.

Donald Sterling may have felt like he was getting in front of his public relations disaster with that Anderson Cooper interview, but there was no sponsor, no player, no fan who watched that and came around to his way of thinking. He came off as sad, confused and a little bitter, not as a sympathetic figure.

Donald Sterling was worse for the NBA bottom line after that interview — especially after he ripped Magic Johnson again. Shelly Sterling faired no better in her interviews.

The league feels it is on solid legal footing to remove them — Sterling signed the franchise agreement with the league. This is kind of akin to an owner of a McDonald’s or Subway violating their franchise agreements — if a store owner does something that embarrasses or damages the Subway brand and the corporation can yank their franchise. While it’s not identical the same basic principle is at work here — Donald Sterling is bad for business and the other owners can kick him out of the club. Shelly Sterling may own half the team but she is not the controlling owner and the league argues that most teams have minority owners that could lose their rights if the controlling owner screwed up. She is bound by the same franchise agreement.

Adam Silver’s statement in the wake of Donald Sterling’s CNN interview was more than an apology to Magic, the last line was a reminder to the other owners what they need to do — “The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.” Silver wants him gone as soon as possible.

Because he’s bad for business.

And every time he speaks he makes the case against him that much stronger.

  1. Bob Loblaw - May 13, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    But a “franchise agreement” does not trump the constitution of the US. And the fact is that there are always ways to contest a franchise agreement, even if you signed it. Whether he prevails or not is another story, but to just assume that the league will vote him out and that will be the end of it is both naive and stupid.

    The fact is that if the NBA agrees to split the tax hit the Sterlings will get 29 ways, then this issue will be resolved tomorrow. But since we all know that no matter what all the holier than thou billionaires say, GREEN is the only color they love, they would never do that in a million years.

    It is so easy for anyone not a Sterling to say “Just sell the team and do the right thing”. Really? Why? Put yourself in the position of a Sterling for a second. If they sell the team when he dies, they pay almost no capital gains taxes. If they sell the team while he is alive, they pay 30% capital gains taxes, which would be between $300 and $450 million bucks.

    Yeah…do the right thing. LOL. The right thing is to hold this up in court until the old man goes. If the NBA is so adamant on getting him out, then offer to pay whatever capital gains taxes come out of the immediate sale of the team and I GUARANTEE Sterling comes out tomorrow and sells the team.

  2. newlydead - May 13, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    “Right now the Sterlings are stealing the spotlight from the players, team and league they claim they love”

    Wrong! They are not stealing the spot light, media outlets (this one included) are choosing to sensationalize this story over just reporting on the games on the court. A fool can talk all day and if no one hears him/her it doesn’t mean a thing.

    • Kurt Helin - May 13, 2014 at 7:11 PM

      We give people more stories about what they want to read about, what they click on and comment on. By your actions you have told me this story is important to you. Just like many others. So you get more of it. You make that call.

  3. asimonetti88 - May 13, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    wow, you suck

  4. duhwighthoward - May 13, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Take your drivel back to the comments section of

    • skids003 - May 13, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      Yeah, there’s no room for anyone not far to the left on NBC.

  5. azarkhan - May 13, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    “Right now the Sterlings are stealing the spotlight from the players…”

    If you really feel that way, then stop running stories about the Sterlings.

  6. mondzy805 - May 13, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    Get this Dirtbag out of the NBA. I`m from So Cal and no One I grew up with wants to be like the Donald or have a Wife like Shelley. These Racist don’t care about the Clippers, they just want to Host friends at there games.

  7. bougin89 - May 13, 2014 at 10:06 AM


  8. bougin89 - May 13, 2014 at 10:07 AM


  9. bougin89 - May 13, 2014 at 10:08 AM


  10. dinofrank60 - May 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    “My coloreds love me. I provide for them, all that I ask is they know their place. Why can’t people understand that? They can’t fend for themselves.”
    “Magic should talk; he doesn’t help his people like I do.While he was sleeping with every woman in the world, I was feeding and clothing coloreds. That’s why I’m not a racist.”
    “They won’t take my team from me. What would happen to my coloreds if they do?”

  11. thegonz13 - May 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    OK, just a couple of things:
    A) While it’s accurate Anderson Cooper can’t determine whether Sterling suffers from dementia or not, the same holds true for Shelly Sterling. This dementia thing is just a bad cop-out and I doubt anyone’s buying the snake oil.
    2) I honestly don’t see what she’s complaining about. If the team is sold, she gets half and at the going rate it’s a truckload of money. Granted, she no longer will be able to greet and try to impress her socialite friends at the Staples Center but hey, I’m sure she’ll survive.

    And memo to Mr. Sterling : Please stop posting on this site under the name albundyrocks. Different name, same crap, sir!

    • borderline1988 - May 13, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      I’m not a doctor and I dont know anything about diagnosing dementia, but Sterling sounds legitimately nuts.
      His whole rant about Magic Johnson, it made no sense. What the hell was he even talking about?

      He’s always been a racist, so no excuses for that. But I think Sterling has just lost it with age.

  12. void96eater - May 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    Everyone ignore albundy. It’s clear that he’s either a troll, or very uneducated. Most likely both.

  13. gborange - May 13, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Sterling pays the bills…….. If his employees don’t like what he says, they can always quit. That’s how it works in the real world.

  14. daddyghi - May 13, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    this could be donald sterling’s account!

  15. muathjam21 - May 13, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    No, stop it Kurt. I counted SEVEN Sterling-related stories on the homepage, most of which are pretty much interchangeable. The only reason the Sterlings have the spotlight is because the media WANTS them to have the spotlight.

    • Kurt Helin - May 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      The public gets what the public clicks on. You clicked on and commented on this story, showing a level of interest in it. If you really didn’t care you wouldn’t have. But you are helping drive traffic to the story and showing us what is important to our readers.

  16. boutdatcomment - May 13, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Best believe the sour ex-owner gonna take others current NBA owners down with him.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2198)
  2. K. Irving (1815)
  3. A. Davis (1647)
  4. L. James (1481)
  5. K. Bryant (1414)
  1. K. Durant (1365)
  2. A. Aminu (1262)
  3. T. Thompson (1236)
  4. M. Leonard (1227)
  5. A. Jefferson (1217)