NBA Suspends Sterling for Life On Day Clipper Players Always Hoped For

Apr 29 2014, 1:52pm CDT | by

You know how it’s always darkest before the dawn? Suddenly, it’s morning in Clipper Nation!

If you had pumped the franchise full of truth serum last week, or any time in the last 30 years, players and employees would all have said they dreamed of being rid of their imperious, courtly, wifty, and now that it’s on the record, womanizing and racially insensitive owner, Donald T. Sterling.

Voila! Guess whose despised hide has just been tacked to the wall, or actually barred from the NBA for life?

Tuesday in New York, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, noting his “personal outrage,” announced that he has suspended Sterling from the league for the rest of his life and fined him $2.5 million, the harshest penalty for an owner in U.S. sports history.

Noting that Sterling had acknowledged that it was his voice on the audiotape, making racist comments, Silver said he will ask the NBA board of governors to force him to sell the team–dumping the matter into the laps of the other 29 owners, who have the authority to take away the team by a three-fourths vote.

Sterling has yet to respond but people who are sure that he now must sell, take his $750 million profit and go (he bought the team in 1981 for $13 million, reportedly assuming $11 million in obligations, paying $2 million in cash), don’t know Donald.

Insiders say he had to be talked out of attending Sunday’s loss to the Warriors in Oakland and doesn’t comprehend his predicament.

Watch: The NBA’s Top-Earning Players Of 2014

We’re not talking about everyday denial. This is someone who can tell his girlfriend, V. Stiviano—that’s what she was actually called—who describes herself as “black and Mexican,” not to “broadcast” a photo she took with Magic Johnson or bring African-Americans to Clipper games … where she often sat next to Sterling in the seat that would be otherwise occupied by Shelly Sterling.

Sterling has great tolerance for in chaos — he seems to revel in it. Alexandra Castro, the young woman he sued in 2004 when he acknowledged paying for sex, portraying her as a $500-a-night prostitute, is still often a guest at Clipper games.

TMZ reported that the telephone conversation taped by Stiviano, in which Sterling made racial comments, occurred April 9, four weeks and five days after Shelly Sterling sued her—on behalf of the Sterling family, the Clippers say—trying to recover the $1.8 million duplex, a Ferrari, a Mercedes, a Range Rover and two Bentleys that her husband gave her.

“Donald’s not wired to let all this in,” said a former staffer. “I’ll bet he’s preparing to sue the league for devaluing his franchise. The thing he’s mad about is that nobody is using the T in his name.”

Sterling, born Donald Tokowitz, the son of a pushcart peddler in hardscrabble Boyle Heights, is now Donald Tokowitz Sterling. I lampooned him in open letters for 20 years in the Los Angeles Times and the only thing he ever complained about, aside from telling me, “I didn’t understand what you meant,” was the first one when I left out the T.

Sterling has been litigious to the point of claiming that he didn’t fire former Coach-GM Mike Dunleavy, insisting that he just stopped coming into the office, even if that wasn’t what the team and the newspapers said at the time. Dunleavy, who had the foresight to get a clause stipulating that an arbitrator settle any dispute, rather than let Sterling drag him out for years in court, collected every penny he claimed he had coming.

Nevertheless, the prevailing opinion is that NBA by-laws, which Sterling accepted, have cut him off from the legal system.

Wrote ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson: “When [Commissioner Adam] Silver issues his punishment to Sterling, the decision is final. The constitution provides in Paragraph 24(m) that a commissioner’s decision shall be… as final as an award of arbitration. It is almost impossible to find a judge in the United States judicial system who would set aside an award of arbitration. Sterling can file a lawsuit but he would face a humiliating defeat early in the process.”

As for the Clipper players, they go into tonight’s pivotal Game 5 of their 2-2 series with the Warriors in Staples Center, worrying about the reception they’ll get from their home crowd… assuming there is one.

Coach Doc Rivers said “I understand” if Johnson, who vowed never to attend another Clipper game while Sterling owns the team, and everyone else stayed away.

“We’re going home now and, usually, that would mean we’re going to our safe haven,” said Rivers after Game 4 in Oakland. “And I don’t even know if that’s true, to be honest.”

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about what it is going to be like,” said Chris Paul.

Golden State Coach Mark Jackson, who wouldn’t mind seeing 5,000 fans rattling around in the 19,000-seat arena, issued his own call for a fan boycott, on principle, he said.

“If it was me, I wouldn’t come to the game,” Jackson said. “I believe as fans, the loudest statement they could make as far as fans is to not show up to the game.”

Not that Sterling doesn’t have some defenders, or at least one. Noted Donald Trump, who presumably knows whereof he speaks: “He got set up by a very, very bad girlfriend. Let’s face it. She’s the girlfriend from Hell.”

The game is hours off but I’m guessing they could put it in the 92,000-seat Rose Bowl and sell it out twice. Clipper players, who immediately dissociated themselves from their owner, are seen as the primary victims, not perpetrators and will probably get the greatest ovation of their lives.

Of course, that remains to be seen. It’s early in the post-Donald era.

Also on Forbes:

NBA Team Values 2014

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Bhopal fugitive Warren Anderson is dead (Roundup, Changing dateline)
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) Warren Anderson, the former CEO of Union Carbide Corp, has died at 92 after living for 30 years under the shadow of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that killed thousands.
 
 
Sit-ins delayed building powerhouses: Nawaz Sharif
Islamabad, Oct 31 (IANS) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday blamed sit-ins for delaying the construction of powerhouses in the country, as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan continued protesting with supporters in the capital city for over two months.
 
 
Britain to repay part of First World War debt
London, Oct 31 (IANS) British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne Friday announced that the British government will pay off part of the country's First World War debt as part of the redemption of bonds stretching as far back as the 18th century.
 
 
UN-Habitat presents the first World Cities Day
Shanghai, Oct 31 (IANS/EFE) The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), headed by former Barcelona mayor Joan Clos, Friday launched its first World Cities Day in China, to be held every Oct 31 to promote sustainable development.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Arnold Schwarzenegger 'knew' he'd star in another Terminator movie
Arnold Schwarzenegger ''always knew'' he'd star in another 'Terminator' movie. The 67-year-old actor - the former governor of California - insists he wasn't surprised when he got a call from producers to appear in the...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Anne Hathaway would 'love' a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada
Anne Hathaway would ''love'' to appear in a sequel to 'The Devil Wears Prada'. The Oscar-winning actress starred in the popular 2006 comedy-drama, which also featured Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt, and has revealed she...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Lily Aldridge wearing mother's Playboy costume for Halloween
Lily Aldridge will wear her mother's old Playboy costume for Halloween. The 28-year-old model - who is married to Kings of Leon singer Caleb Followill - found her mum Laura Lyons' raunchy Playboy Bunny flight attendant...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Rochelle Humes' daughter loves Marvin doll
Rochelle Humes is embarrassed by her daughter's obsession with a doll of her husband, Marvin Humes. The 25-year-old singer has admitted she found it ''cringey'' when she was recently photographed holding a doll of her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Keira Knightley annoyed Chloe Moretz didn't ask her advice
Keira Knightley was annoyed Chloe Grace Moretz didn't want her advice. The 29-year-old actress - who appears alongside the 17-year-old star in her latest movie 'Say When' - was disappointed that the young actress didn'...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Daniel Radcliffe loses everything
Daniel Radcliffe loses everything. The 'Horns' star admits he constantly has to replace his mobile phone and often puts things away and can't ever find them again. The 25-year-old actor said: ''I lose things a lot. At...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Apple Outsmarts Samsung in Terms of Revenue Generation
Samsung can sell more products, but it doesn’t mean that it will earn more profit, as Apple overtakes the Korean giant with respect to the earnings.According to the Cult of Mac, Samsung earned a profit of $3.8 billion...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Apple Declares Not to Remove PCalc iOS Calculator Widget
The PCalc iOs calculator widget is free from the risk of being removed, as Apple decides not to drop it from the App Store.According to Tech Crunch, the officials of Apple have confirmed about the move, stating that it...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Seth Rogen to Act as Steve Wozniak in the Steve Jobs’ Movie
Seth Rogen has got an important role in the biopic of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, as he has been selected to play as Steve Wozniak.According to the Variety, Rogen will be advised directly by Steve Wozniak, the...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Ponzy schemer cheats residents of $22 mn, gets 15-year jail
Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) If you have been one of those approached by some 'known' person for investing in something with an assurance of 'easy money', you may benefit reading about this Ponzi schemer jailed in the US...
Read more on Politics Balla