Donald Sterling the ousted owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is reportedly seeking a powerhouse law firm to represent him in suing the NBA for banning him for life and stripping him of all duties related to the Clippers. A vote by the board of governors (NBA owners) hasn't been taken yet. It is expected that the vote to oust Donald will be unanimous.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the right decision to ban Donald Sterling for life. It was the ethical decision and moral decision but it also was the right decision to make for the NBA. The NBA had to protect its brand for a number of reasons. I will examine those reasons shortly but let’s look at the NBA’s authority to ban Sterling.
Sterling Signed into the Terms of Ownership, Didn't He?
We can argue until we’re blue in the face about NBA’s had a legal authority to ban Donald Sterling. Detractors of the NBA’s decision can argue until they are blue in the face that it is the right of any American to have free speech.
Americans do have the right to have free speech. What that means is that a citizen can’t be prosecuted for having an opinion unless that opinion incites violence or does harm to another person. Free speech generally protects a person from being persecuted but it doesn't protect them from being stupid.
Sterling isn't being prosecuted for being a racist. He will face no criminal charges. Sterling’s racist remarks went public. That meant that society had the right to respond and respond they did. They don’t have to employ him, do business with him or buy his products/services.
Americans have that right, in a free country to blacklist shame and boycott Sterling. Sterling is a public figure and uttering racist comments is not protected from the public outcry that occurred. The public wants to boycott him and they have that right.
Now let’s examine if the NBA has the right to ban Sterling for his free speech. When Sterling became an owner, I’m assuming that he had to agree (in writing) to abide by certain principles. I’m assuming that he agreed that the NBA could remove and ban an owner for violating a code of conduct or for actions detrimental to the NBA. I will admit that I haven’t read the NBA’s bylaws but it does give the commissioner the right to ban an owner.
If Sterling agreed to those terms when he signed on as an NBA owner he has no legal leg to stand on in my opinion. This is only my opinion. I’m sure he’ll find some slime ball lawyer to fight the NBA’s ban. He has the right to retain council. That is his American given right. He will find a money hungry legal whore (male or female) to represent him. It’s amazing who comes out to play when money is involved.
I sure hope that if this bogus lawsuit goes to trial that a civil court of law will have common sense and not decide in favor of Sterling. I hope that they will realize the damage that can be done to the NBA by having sterling as an owner.
The Los Angeles Clippers are likely to lose all their sponsorship if Donald Sterling is allowed to remain as the team’s owner. Businesses are likely to not want to have their brand associated with racism. Money talks and those businesses would not risk losing millions or billions because their customers blacklisted the company.
If Sterling wins his fight and stays on as owner, the NBA will have a team that is unable to earn sponsorship revenue. That will hurt the team. The NBA’s brand will be tarnished from having a racist owner. They can’t allow that to happen.
I’m sure the courts will realize that. Once again money speaks and if an organization would be irreparably harmed because a racist NBA owner has association with the league, that owner needs to be removed.
Players and Coaches
The other consideration for the courts to consider is the damage that will be done to the team and the NBA if players and coaches refuse to play for the Clippers. I’m sure there will be very few if any players that will associate with Donald Sterling.
I’m venturing a guess that the only players that would want associate with Sterling are the ones that wear white sheets in private.
That would make it almost impossible for the team to operate. Common sense dictates that the removal of Sterling from a practical business perspective should not be protected. That wouldn't make sense in this great United States of ours, would it?
So it makes great business sense for the NBA to ban Sterling for life and ban him from the NBA.
The other group of people that is likely boycott the team are the fans of the team. Actually, I’m sure that when the Clippers will go on the road, fans of those teams might boycott the games as well. The Clippers would not be able to be financially operable under those conditions and once again the NBA brand would be damaged.
The NBA could lose tens of millions of dollars. The NBA can’t allow that to happen. The courts can’t allow that to happen. Allowing Donald Sterling to remain the owner of the Clippers is bad for business. Banning him is good for business.
Future Investment by Potential Owners
I’m sure there will always be people who will want to buy an NBA team, even if there is a racist owner among them. I’m guessing that it would be harder for the NBA to lure the most respected and best owners to the NBA if the league was tarnished by the racist brush.
The NBA can’t allow that to happen. For this reason, banning Donald Sterling is good for business.
By now I think that you see a common theme here. Banning Donald Sterling was a good business decision. The NBA didn’t have much of a choice here and had to ban Sterling.
Donald Sterling has no one to blame but himself. He was the one who uttered racist words. He was the one that was caught. Now he is trying to fight the NBA for banning him. The only thing that Sterling is proving to the public is that he is a vicious racist who is determined to defend his racist behavior.