Sterling To Fight NBA Life Ban, Fine
05/19/14
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Donald Sterling reportedly is threatening to sue the NBA for his life ban for making racist remarks in a private conversation.
Sports Illustrated reported Thursday that Sterling’s lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, wrote the NBA to say that Sterling, who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, would not pay the $2.5 million fine imposed last month and that “no punishment is warranted” for his actions.

The incriminatory recording is of an argument between Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano. Sterling, who is Jewish, berates her for associating with black men and also derides black Jews in Israel.
In a subsequent interview with CNN, Sterling suggested blacks were less inclined to charity than Jews.

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05/21/2014 - 18:36

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Addendum: I just read an article about the legal strategies that might be used to oust Donald Sterling from the NBA. The analysis suggested that the NBA will have more problems ousting Sterling than is commonly believed. Then there is the possibility that Sterling will win a lawsuit, and not only will he stay, but the NBA will have to pay him damages. This is getting to be fun.

People who know absolutely nothing about Donald Sterling and what his beliefs are; rush to judgement. HE'S A RACIST. Really? Why did he invite Kareem Abdul Jabbar to his daughter's wedding? Why does he own a NBA team which is comprised of about 80% blacks? Why not buy a hockey team? Why is his coach black? Why does he give large financial donations to the NAACP? For that matter, if he's 'an unabashed racist', why is his girlfriend black? These facts, which so many people overlook, disprove the consensus opinion. Sterling is NOT a racist.
Friends, we are deteriorating in this country to a lynch mob mentality. I'm pretty sure Sterling is over 80 years old. He may have onset of senile dementia as his wife said. He may have been drinking alcohol. His state of mind during the conversation could have been almost anything; but in truth, it doesn't matter. He was at home having a private conversation. That is sacrosanct, protected speech. The public is NOT entitled to listen in, to disapprove of it, and to pressure him to sell his property. If I am correct in my assessment of the Sterling family, they will reverse dunk a regulation size legal basketball down the NBA's throat. Watching that, for me, will be better than the actual game.

I realize that defending Sterling is a lonely, thankless undertaking, but so what - sue me. 1) It was probably illegal to record Sterling's conversation. 2) It was probably a crime of libel to release it to the media. 3) Assuming the voice on the recording belongs to Sterling, we have no idea if it was edited, or taken out of context. 4) Who even brought up the subject of Magic Johnson with Sterling and why? Was Sterling intentionally provoked? 5) We still have laws in this country and a right to privacy in one's own home. As far as I can figure, Sterling broke no laws, so I think the NBA and the lynch mob that has been calling for his head (figuratively) are way off base and will be beaten back by Sterling's lawyer. I have zero sympathy for the sharks that are circling Sterling.

I read lots of sympathy for Sterling in your letter. I read zero sympathy about the people that he ranted about. The law that Sterling broke is that he is an unabashed racist and, as such, he should not be allowed to own a sports team that represents an American city. If a sports team owner were to be caught on tape telling his girlfriend, "don't bring Jews to the games" and "why do you post pictures of yourself with Jews?", would you then agonize about how the tape was made and released? Would you be okay with such a person owning a sports team representing your city? Looking forward to reading your answer...

I was conflicted about this case.

On one hand my visceral reaction was he's got to go! Immediately! He has a prior track record in which HUD successfully sued him and settled a housing discrimination case. Although Elgin Baylor lost his employment discrimination case in which he complained, among other things, that Sterling had a plantation mentality, Sterling's statements to Stiviano confirm that he does indeed have a plantation mentality. As if these sins weren't enough, Sterling then committed blasphemy by maligning the extremely popular former NBA player and five time champion, Magic Johnson who is an NBA egend. If this were a western movie, you would hear somebody say, "heck, hanging is too good for this varmint!"

On the other hand, after I calmed down, took off my cowboy hat, I wondered how the NBA could strip him of ownership since the team actually is owned by a family trust in which his wife has an interest and she did nothing wrong. According to Sports Illustrate the NBA franchise agreement allows this but the litigation over this might be very long.
It is also amazing to me how riled up Lebron and Jordan are as if this was some kind of divest South Africa campaign in order to end apartheid. But this thing is not as "deadly" serious as the Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis (loud music) cases. And no one would have expected the players to boycott games because of how those cases were handed.
It also amazes me that Paula Dean can use the n-word which is extremely offensive but she weathered that storm much better because she consulted with professional spin control advisers. So I am surprised that a man with Sterling's money was speaking alone without the guidance and help of a media consultant or attorney to make an apology. Billy Martin (represented Shondra Levy's family) and Judy Smith (Scandal is loosely based on her life) come to mind as suitable damage control masters. I'm sure that they would have nipped this in the bud quickly: (1) Billy Martin or Judy Smith would release statements to the press and hold a press conference with brief statements by the one or two persons who would be willing to say that Sterling is a great Dad or neighbor. (2) If Sterling was allowed to speak, he would have made a short tightly scripted apology. (3) Taking a page from college sports Sterling would have penalized himself. Sterling would propose the sale of at least 25% of the shares of Clippers to a single owner like Oprah or to a consortium of minority owners, thereby resulting in him being the minority owner once his soon to be ex-wife takes the other 50% of the shares. (4) Another part of the self-imposed penalty would be that Sterling would agree that at least 20% of the proceeds from the sale of the 25% of shares would fund organizations similar to The Tiger Woods Foundation, Esperanca, The Simon Wiesenthal Center (which promotes tolerance, documents and fights hate crimes) and Will.i.am's charity i.am. scholar program.

I think if he had done something along these linesbefore Commissioner Silver appeared on TV, the NBA and public would be more forgiving and this thing could have been worked out more calmly. Perhaps a zebra can't change its stripes but if a Klansman can sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and be a friend to minorities and George Wallace can have a Nebuchadnezer experience perhaps there's hope for Donald Sterling even though based on the recordings he probably wouldn't like the looks of me.

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