The Los Angeles Clippers are dangerously close to becoming a .300 win team – again.
The next 24 hours are pivotal for the Clippers franchise and its fans. Tomorrow, NBA commissioner Adam Silver will deliver the results of the leagues investigation in the wake of Sterling’s alleged recorded racists comments. At 2pm EST, Silver’s address will summarize opinions from of the NBA board of executives and other 29 team owners on how the league plans to move further with or with out the long-tenured Clippers owner.
In the most inopportune time for Clippers basketball, after racist recordings surfaced between Sterling and former girlfriend V.Stiviano, the NBA community has exploded with controversy and frustration. At this point, there’s nothing but speculation. Adam Silver has yet to announce the findings of the NBA’s “investigation”. None of the Clippers players or coaches have met with Sterling. Stiviano hasn’t made a statement. What has been discussed is talk of Magic Johnson replacing Sterling as the Clippers new owner, the possibility of the NBA taking over ownership, and every boycott scenario protesters can think of.
Lurking in the shadows under this chaos and public relations disaster for the league is the potential reversal of fortune for the Clippers. It is likely the NBA will suspend Sterling indefinitely, enacting a clause in team ownership contracts that states “an owner who makes a statement having or designed to have an effect prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of basketball”, can be removed. And Rightfully so… It’s the only fair decision to be made.
In the event the NBA makes the wrong call and somehow allows Sterling to continue his multiple decade long streak as being LA’s most notorious slumlord and overall dirtbag, how bad will the fall out be for the Los Angeles Clippers team and its fans?
Doc Rivers has already publicly stated that he isn’t sure he’ll coach the team next season if Sterling remains owner. If any decision besides the immediate and indefinite suspension of Sterling is handed down, the league will have to make accommodations to the Clippers players, most of which who have already publicly stated their disinterest in playing for Sterling any further. In the event player grievances are filed with the National Basketball Players Association, accommodations can include the facilitation of trades, and certain exceptions made in the current collective bargaining agreement that would allow the Clippers’ players to exit town.
In its closest example in professional sports, Marge Schott served as managing general partner, CEO and president of the Cincinnati Reds, until her slurs against African-Americans, Jews and human beings of Japanese descent gained her a three-year suspension by the MLB. Shortly afterwards she sold her majority share in the team. Perhaps the NBA could use this history lesson as a guiding light.
In similar fashion the Clippers are in win-now mode, they also can’t wait to have Sterling removed, and if they do they’ll be right back where they started. Bottom feeders of the league, without any clear path to resolve and no draw in free agency. Neil Olshey and Gary Sack’s work would become completely undone overnight, and fans will be forced to endure a longer stretch of mediocrity from the team that has in recent years been crowned Los Angeles’ best.
Within three days of the released recordings, the Clippers organization has lost every major local sponsor it had. KIA, Corona, Red Bull, Mercedes-Benz, Chumash Casino, Sprint, Carmax and a few others have either suspended or permanently ended their agreements with the club. Even if somehow the league can’t remove Sterling from a morality standpoint, the loss in revenue lends Adam Silver a great case to remove him for future financial considerations. Still a lengthy litigation process to say the least, and one the NBA will seek to avoid.
The only recourse is a majority consensus of the 29 NBA team owners calling for Sterling’s long-overdue departure. Here’s to hoping the league does the right thing. Remove Donald Sterling and his plantation style mentality from the Los Angeles Clippers. Send a message to all of professional sports, provide a positive example to our nation, and give the world the type of resolution it needs to see.