When Adam Silver made the smart decision to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after an investigation revealed Sterling was in fact the voice behind the disgusting remarks about black people in a leaked audio file last weekend, he reiterated how strongly he’ll petition the league’s board of governors to force Sterling into selling the team. The only problem? Donald Sterling doesn’t appear willing to let go.
Fox News’ Jim Gray spoke with Sterling moments before Silver made his announcement and Sterling was unaware of the pending lifetime ban.
He wouldn’t go on the record for most his conversation with Gray, even asking Gray what he should expect before Silver made his announcement, at which point Gray told him about an initial TMZ report. While in the dark as to his lifetime ban, Sterling did reiterate what he’s always said when people asked: the Clippers are “not for sale.”
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Silver was pretty adamant that he would do everything within his power to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, but as you can see, the racial bigot isn’t going to be that easy to usurp, even if he’s banned from the Staples Center and every other arena in the NBA.
It is possible to remove Sterling by invoking the provision within the NBA’s constitutional bylaws that ESPN’s Lester Munson wrote about earlier today. There would need to be a three-fourths vote from the NBA’s Board of Governors — the 30 NBA owners — to terminate Sterling’s franchise:
Q: Is it possible for Silver and the NBA to terminate Sterling’s franchise ownership?
A: Yes. Under the terms of Paragraph 13 of the constitution, the owners can terminate another owner’s franchise with a vote of three-fourths of the NBA Board of Governors, which is composed of all 30 owners. The power to terminate is limited to things like gambling and fraud in the application for ownership, but it also includes a provision for termination when an owner “fails to fulfill” a “contractual obligation” in “such a way as to affect the [NBA] or its members adversely.” Silver and the owners could assert that Sterling’s statements violated the constitution’s requirements to conduct business on a “reasonable” and “ethical” level.
Any owner or Silver can initiate the termination procedure with a written charge describing the violation. Sterling would have five days to respond to the charge with a written answer. The commissioner would then schedule a special meeting of the NBA Board of Governors within 10 days. Both sides would have a chance to present their evidence, and then the board would vote. If three-fourths of the board members vote to terminate, then Sterling would face termination of his ownership. It would require a vote of two-thirds of the board to reduce the termination to a fine. Terminating a franchise would obviously be a drastic remedy, but the potential of the termination procedure gives Silver and the other owners vast leverage in any discussion with Sterling about an involuntary sale of his team.
Silver said in his press conference: “I fully expect to get the support needed.”
We’re guessing Silver, as a smart disciple of David Stern for years, wouldn’t have uttered that phrase with so much confidence if he hadn’t already done an informal head count among the NBA’s owners to figure out whether three-fourth’s of them would vote to terminate Sterling’s ownership rights.
But we can’t know for certain whether they’ll get the owner’s votes needed to end his dark tenure as the head of the Clippers.
Will the owners ratify a vote forcing Sterling to sell the team?
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