Sterling Won't Give Up; Neither Will the NBA
Afghanistan. Syria. Los Angeles Clippers.
These have been trouble spots for years with no simple solutions. As most wags know all too well, short-term fixes -- especially feelgood fixes -- can become expensive long-term quagmires.
And the first two of that trio could be sorted before owner Donald Sterling is done fighting his ostracism from the NBA.
The billionaire bigot has already said that the Clippers aren't for sale despite the fact that the NBA has now declared it will do everything it can to force him out.
Like most fans, I was thrilled when NBA commissioner Adam Sliver banned Sterling, not thinking at the time of the consequences. Does that qualify me as a Secretary of Defense candidate? Or at least, a war hawk?
Sterling got his start as a litigation attorney, he still loves to go to court -- he's not a self-made billionaire because he's a creampuff -- and it's becoming clearer he won't go down without a fight. He'll win a few battles according to most, but I don't think he will win the war. Eventually, the NBA will wear him down.
Why? Economics. Does Sterling honestly believe if he is retained as owner that he'll be supported? Owning the Clippers will be hell on earth.
- Fans won't show up to games. Oh, there will always be a few who will support the team, but the majority of Clipper fans will stay at home, refusing to support a dirtbag.
- Sponsors -- big name sponsors -- are already pulling out. They don't want their product to be associated with a scumball.
- And finally, who will want to play or coach for this man? It's going to be tough to field a team when you don't have enough players.
There might be a few willing to play for him because of the paycheck, but don't count on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin coming back.
Did we mention that there will probably be a daily protest at Clipper games?
Sterling might keep the team out of spite, and he'll take a ton of NBA dollars with him. He's got some interesting points to make:
- He didn't break any laws; ironically, the only criminal violation was the illegal recording and release of the tape that plunged him into this situation.
- While the NBA governors can vote to expel him, the league constitution doesn't specifically state they can vote him out for being a jerk.
- The league office, other owners, and even the coaches and players have tolerated him for years. Yes, he's a bigot, but he's been a consistent bigot. How can they pull the plug on him now when they haven't done so earlier? That's what the Fox legal analyst meant by arbitrary and capricious, and it could be more of a prickly point than many realize.
It is hypocritical that the Commish and the other owners haven't been motivated before now because Sterling hadn't really cost them money before. And let's be frank, here. This is as much about money as it is a moral issue. The irony now is the amount of cash it's going to take to toss the dude.
But in the end, he'll never win, except on his own balance sheet. The team cost him $12.5million to buy, it'll probably sell for as much as $1.5billion whenever or however it's sold, and he'll get the profit. He obviously knows this and can count on it to bolster his war chest, so it'll be a while before he'll be forced to raise the white flag.
Even then, he'll have enough extra dosh to buy Afghanistan and Syria. If only they didn't have so many minorities in them.