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Comments about ‘NBA owners to vote on sale of Clippers’

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Published: Friday, May 30 2014 8:50 p.m. MDT

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Jim1027
St. George, UT

So let me recap this story.

You have an old guy with proven diminished capacity, that most everybody is piling on. The politically correct commissioner wants to take his team away from him, fine him, and without any hearing.

But guys in the league can beat up their wives, father illegitimate children and not take care of them, and that's ok?

Just wondering!

Tenn12
Orem, UT

Jim1027,
I would encourage you to visit espn.com and read up on the "Outside the Line" feature on Donald Sterling. Nobody is pouring it on. This man has led a life of immorality, lies, and exhibited a pattern of cruelty towards people of varying ethnicities. This man is not an innocent man of diminished capacity. He has been a vile man for decades. He is finally getting what he deserves. Before defending this man, I would encourage you to learn about what he has done his whole life. Trust me, this recent event was nothing compared to everything else he's done. It's time justice is served and he is held accountable for his actions. He has violated his contract with the NBA as an owner.

let's roll
LEHI, UT

Lots of happy owners regarding this news. They can cancel their vote and not have to set the precedent of taking over a franchise because its owner was unpopular.

No one who knows anything about the law and has read the NBA constitution had any real confidence that it empowers the league to take away the Clippers. The grounds for taking over a franchise are very narrow. An owner would have to breach a contractual duty to the league. There's no morals clause in the constitution so the only hope the league had was that Sterling would be stupid enough to not pay the $2.5 million fine (the Constitution does give the Commissioner wide latitude in fining owners, the maximum fine being $2.5 million) since that is the best argument they'd have for saying Sterling breach a contractual duty to the league.

The owners didn't want to have to take the vote (see e.g., Mark Cuban's continuous back peddling)as they knew the only palatable result from a PR standpoint was to vote to force the sale; that they'd be buying a lawsuit; and that they'd likely loose that lawsuit

Tenn12
Orem, UT

Let's roll,
You are incorrect. Did you read the NBA's constitution? The NBA is well within its right. Article 13d states that an owner's membership may be terminated if they fail or refuse "to fulfill its contractual obligations to the Association, its Members, Players, or any other third party in such a way as to affect the Association or its Members adversely." Owners also agree to uphold ethical conduct and never support/promote positions that are not in line with those of the NBA. Sterling's statements and pattern of behavior have revealed his views about African-Americans that in turn caused harm to the NBA. Players were going to stop playing, and several corporate sponsors discontinued their support for the NBA because of Sterling. The NBA has plenty of ammunition in addition to this which I don't have the space to discuss. Also, Cuban's viewpoints do not reflect the viewpoints of all owners. I don't know where you got that idea. Most owners are or were prepared to vote in support of Silver's decision to oust him.

let's roll
LEHI, UT

@Tenn12

I have read the NBA constitution in its entirety. I cited the same clause you did. The difference is you seem to believe there's a breach of contract. What provision of what contract was breached? There is no morals clause in the constitution. Being a bigot isn't a breach of contract.

I've litigated in both federal and state court and know how to be an advocate...all the bluster from the NBA was just that advocacy. They've certainly got the better side of the public opinion argument.

However, given the choice, I suspect most of my fellow members of the bar, if asked to pick who has the better legal side of the argument, would pick Sterling.

The owners had every opportunity to take their vote...they choose not to. They were playing the PR game as well. Why would any owner want to set the precedent that the league can take away their franchise if they cause a PR stir. If Sterling had not sold I think they would have voted against him for the PR reason...understanding their vote would likely be overturned by a court...a result they'd be hoping for.

Tenn12
Orem, UT

Let's roll,
I congratulate you on your credentials. I've done a fair amount of research on the issue. If we are going to base our arguments on our legal accomplishments or credentials, I'll place my legal trust in Michael Mccann. He has contributed to sportsillustrated.cnn.com. And according to the website Mr. Mccann "is a Massachusetts attorney and the founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. He is also the distinguished visiting Hall of Fame Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law." It would appear he is as well versed as you. However, he seems to believe the NBA will win and are clearly within its right.

let's roll
LEHI, UT

@Tenn12

Thanks for the reference to Mr. McCann's musings on this subject. Read a couple of them. All I saw was his explanation of Sterling's position and the possible NBA position with respect to each. I must have missed the part where he said he thought the NBA would win.

I suspect he had a page limit so couldn't make all the points he may have wanted to but he missed a couple of obvious ones:

1) Sterling would ask for a bench trial not a jury trial, and judges tend to be more focused on the law than on PR.

2) In order to prevail the NBA would need a expansive interpretation of Article 13, but since the NBA drafted the constitution it would be interpreted narrowly, since the judge would likely find if the NBA wanted it to be broader, they had the opportunity to make the language broader.

Additionally, in the predictions he did make, Mr. McCann appears to be 0 for 1. He wrote that the NBA would never let Ms. Sterling control the Clippers...yet that's exactly what the NBA did, giving her authority to control the sales process for the team.

Tenn12
Orem, UT

Let's roll,
If you read all of his articles, and there are several, you will clearly see where he stands. I can direct you to the articles if needed. Now, corrections, Mr. McCann never said the NBA will not let Ms. Sterling control the Clippers. He said they didn't want to. You only read the headline of that article where it says, "NBA won't concede control of the Clippers." So he is actually not 0-1. Second correction would be that the reason the NBA didn't want to give control to Shelly was because they did not want her to be the owner. At first she indicated she wanted to be the owner moving forward. However, she agreed to sell the team which is exactly what the NBA wanted! Lastly, you and your friends are beginning to fall in the minority as it goes with legal analysts. Lester Munson, legal analyst for ESPN.com posted this article a few days ago titled, "Sterling's suit against NBA will fail." Feel free to read that. Sterling DID breach his contractual duties. So far I'm having a hard time finding credible sources arguing that Sterling has a strong chance.

let's roll
LEHI, UT

Tenn12

It's refreshing, if a bit naive, that you believe you get unbiased analysis when it comes to the NBA and ESPN or SI. It's like believing Fox News provides unbiased analysis of Republicans(or CNBC Dems). ESPN and SI have to deal with the NBA going forward and try to get interviews and broadcasting rights. That coupled with the overwhelming public opinion on the matter can't help but color their analysis. The WSJ was more objective.

Your ESPN article claims Sterling's suit will fail on procedural grounds...it will be dismissed from court and sent to arbitration because of a mandatory arbitration clause...no citation to the clause...in fact, Article 42 of the Constitution describes litigation costs...there's no arbitration clause in the Constitution. Sterling sued the NBA when he bought the Clippers and moved them to LA from SD. That suit wasn't thrown out of court and sent to arbitration.

You seem to have a healthy interest in the topic. I recommend waiting a few months and then looking for law review articles on the topic if you want an in-depth, reasoned analysis.

Best regards.

Tenn12
Orem, UT

Let's Roll,
Naive? I would define naive as someone who thinks the Jazz should hire Mark Jackson considering his past relationship and dealings with the franchise. ;)
I guess we'll see how it plays out. Legal issues aside, I would be curious as to why you think it would be worth Sterling's time and money to fight this battle. Players don't want to play for him, businesses don't want to sponsor. He loses no matter what. Exactly what does he gain? Ownership in the NBA should be a privilege and if you look at his history, he is clearly not fit to be an owner. I would just as soon not hear about Donald Sterling unless he becomes more accountable and apologetic for his reprehensible actions that have been going on for decades. His comments were just the tip of the iceberg.

let's roll
LEHI, UT

I don't think he should fight it. If he cares about the NBA as he says he does, he should take his money and leave (which appears to be what he's decided to do). He's never been good for the league, he's always been about himself.

Having represented far too many individuals and corporations with more money than common sense, it's too often about just "winning" for them, regardless of the cost(a major reason I am now an in house lawyer and no longer a litigator). The better strategy for the NBA was always to give him a way to exit without beating him up any more than necessary.

My interest has always been a purely legal evaluation of the scope of the power under the NBA Constitution to oust an owner and how that power was being analyzed in the press. My read was that scope of the power was poorly described and detailed analysis of how the Sterling facts met or didn't meet the Article 13 standard was non-existent. I certainly am not a Sterling apologist. Happy to see him gone.

BTW, I'm partial to Quinn Snyder.

Tenn12
Orem, UT

Looks like Sterling, an attorney by trade, decided he would probably lose as evidenced by his dropping his suit. His first good decision in awhile.

let's roll
LEHI, UT

I seriously doubt Sterling thought he was going to loose. He always thought he was going to win, even when he wasn't. It takes a certain level of self-confidence to sit with your girlfriend courtside game after game when your wife is also at all of those games.

I suspect a better explanation is that he cooled off and did a more rational evaluation of the situation. As I used to counsel my clients in litigation...you may win, but what are you going to gain, how are you going to be better off.

A win in litigation for Sterling (which might take as long a couple of years) would mean the right to stay in the NBA surrounded by owners who hate him (because of what he did to the reputation of the league and the fact he got a judge to overturn their vote to throw him out); fans who mock and deride him and derision in both his public and private life.

Mr. Ballmer gave Sterling 2 billion reasons to call himself a winner and drop the litigation.
.

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