What is it about generating billions of dollars in personal wealth that does not correlate with having any sense? I don’t know. For the answer you are going to have to ask Donald Sterling:
On April 25, 2014, TMZ Sports released a recording of a conversation between Sterling and a female friend, V. Stiviano. In the recording from September 2013, a man confirmed to be Sterling was irritated over a photo Stiviano had posted on Instagram, in which she posed with Basketball Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson. Sterling told Stiviano: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people”, and, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want”, but “the little I ask you is … not to bring them to my games.”
Clippers president Andy Roeser issued a statement the following day, indicating that Stiviano was being sued by the Sterling family and had “told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even'” with him. A month earlier in March, Sterling’s wife had sued Stiviano for the return of a $1.8-million Los Angeles duplex as well as a Ferrari, two Bentleys, and a Range Rover she said her husband bought for Stiviano.
On April 26, 2014, the team held a meeting to discuss the incident. Both coaches and players expressed anger toward the comments, and they briefly raised the possibility of boycotting Game 4 of their series against the Golden State Warriors on April 27, 2014, before deciding against it. Instead, players protested Sterling’s remarks by wearing their shirts inside-out in order “to obscure any team logo” during their pre-game huddle. The next day, April 28, 2014, players of the Miami Heat wore their uniform tops inside-out to show solidarity with the Clippers. LeBron James commented on the situation, “There’s no room for Donald Sterling in the NBA.” The owner of the Miami Heat, Micky Arison, also called the allegations “appalling, offensive and very sad”. NBA’s Kevin Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant also condemned Sterling’s remarks.
It turns out that Sterling possesses the mental acumen to amass billions through astute business dealings, but he still retains the thought processes of a backwoodsman. Let’s examine this some more. A little skeptical analysis may be in order.
Granted, Mr. Sterling’s income from his ownership of the Clippers franchise amounts to a small fraction of his pocket change. Regardless, the earnings of this franchise spring from the talents and efforts of a number of black people. And he does not like black people? What is it with Sterling? Does he think of these employees as mere vassals on his plantation? Multi-million-dollar vassals, if you will, but vassals nonetheless.
Obviously this is not good for business. Once it becomes public knowledge, that is. Many of these highly-paid employees are now highly-pissed-off, as well. There have been threats of refusing to work. This quickly becomes ludicrous beyond all reason. Somebody is going to skip out on a multi-million-dollar paycheck because they discovered the boss is a jerk. Boss is a jerk? Been there, guys. Took the money anyhow. Of course, once you’ve pocketed several of Mr. Sterling’s millions the specter of standing in the unemployment line becomes less threatening.
There’s more. The National Basketball League (MBA) considers Sterling’s remarks to be harmful to business. Players might not play. (?) Fans might skip the games. (??) Businessmen will lose money. (!!!) That’s not good. The NBA and owners have recourse. They can shed the league of toxic assets such as Donald Sterling. They have a contract. Sterling signed the contract when he acquired ownership of the Clippers. They can force Mr. Sterling out. They can force him to sell to somebody else. For a billion dollars. Some have expressed interest in such a business transaction. Sterling purchased the franchise for just a few thousand 30 years ago.
Breaking news. Donald Sterling says the league cannot force him to sell:
In a newly released recording, embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is purportedly determined to stay at the helm. “You can’t force someone to sell property in America,” says the voice in the recording, which was obtained by RadarOnline.com.
I do not know from whence Mr. Sterling pulled that idea, but disregard for a moment the scene that has NBA lawyers showing up at Mr. Sterling’s office with a sales contract and forcing him to put pen to paper. They do not need to do that. They have likely seen the movie. The NBA can make Mr. Sterling an offer he cannot refuse.
Suppose Sterling just hunkers down, as some have predicted he might do. In other words just do nothing. What can the NBA do? They can also do nothing. They can do a very specific nothing. When they draw up the game schedule for the 2014-2015 schedule they can not put the Clippers in the schedule. The NBA can omit the action of scheduling any games for the Clippers.
Is this going to work? Not so well. Recall those multi-million-dollar Clippers players? No schedule means no paycheck for them. Can they take jobs with other NBA franchises? Recall they are already under contract with Mr. Sterling. Can they break their contracts? Quite possibly the contracts can be voided. Especially if Mr. Sterling fails to pay their salaries.
There’s more the NBA can do. It can create a new franchise. The new franchise can hire Mr. Sterling’s former players. Where will the new franchise play? I understand there will be a nice venue in Los Angeles becoming available for next season. Maybe they can play there.
In the mean time are fans staying away? No way. Are players refusing to play. Are you kidding? This is, after all, about business. This is about money.
So I say. Then I remind myself of something. It’s only a game, people. It’s a diversion from the drabness that pervades our lives. It’s a bit of eye candy. A bit of eye candy that empties our pockets to the tune of a hundred dollars a ticket or so, but eye candy nonetheless.
In this I need to be cautious. My friend and next door neighbor works for the San Antonio Spurs franchise. Hopefully he does not read my blog. In case you’re reading, Jimmy, my apologies. Also my apologies to some backwoodsmen I compared to Donald Sterling.