The NBA wants Donald Sterling out. Thanks to an ex-Microsoft CEO with deep pockets the league can get what it wants by simply approving the Clippers sale.
Since the recordings of Sterling making racists comments were leaked one of the ongoing stories of the post season has been the desire by league executives, players, and fans to see the longtime owner gone from the NBA.
In the weeks since NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned him for life there have been countless rumors about possible player boycotts if he was still part of the league next season. Those rumors were eventually debunked, but the threat rang true with people hence the concern.
Sterling’s vow to fight his banishment and the fine increased worry that the scandal could spill over in to next season, and there was no telling how it would end. The outrage over his comments made it easy for the NBA to hand down its punishment, but a legal fight–even if the league won–would go bad for the league.
Should Sterling’s ouster go to court the case will take months. In that time, Sterling’s lawyers will paint a descriptive picture of an old man that thought he was safe saying whatever he wanted in the confines of his own home–racist or not. They will probably pose a couple questions as well to the court and the public:
Who hasn’t said things at home in private that they would not want made public?
Do we want to set this kind of precedent? If so, than someone can illegally tape a person saying something unpopular and hold that person hostage with the threat of being outed.
With time watering down the anger there is no telling how the case would go. A loss would be disastrous to the league, but even if it won there is no telling what kind of damage could be done in the process.
Approving the sale of the Clippers for $2 billion dollars to Steve Balmer makes the whole controversy go away. The NBA gets to look like it acted with a stern hand, but doesn’t have to actually follow through with enforcing anything. Sterling gets to make a ridiculous profit off his initial investment of $12.5 million.
In short–one of the ugliest scandals in recent NBA history ends in a win-win.