After weeks of speculating that it will actually happen, Sports Illustrated, per an unnamed source, has reported that Donald Sterling is preparing to sue the NBA.
SI.com has learned that Clippers owner Donald Sterling has hired prominent antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher, who has written a letter to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan threatening to sue the NBA. The letter, sources tell SI.com, claims that Sterling has done nothing wrong and that “no punishment is warranted” for Sterling. Blecher also tells Buchanan that Sterling will not pay the $2.5 million fine, which is already past due. Blecher ends the letter by saying this controversy “will be adjudicated.”
This news surprises no one. Once the NBA and Adam Silver announced that Donald Sterling would be banned for life from the league and forced to pay a fine of $2.5 million due to his racist remarks caught on tape, the talk of Sterling taking action against the league began. It became a guarantee that Sterling would take this up in court once Silver later announced that the NBA and Board of Commissions would do whatever is in their jurisdiction to remove Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Here is a description from SI on what Sterling would actually be taking the NBA to court for:
Second, Blecher argues that Sterling’s “due process rights” have been violated by the NBA. A due process claim may sound superficially reasonable. After all, Sterling was banned permanently from the NBA after a mere four-day investigation, without any formal proceedings. If the NBA were a federal agency or a state college, Sterling might have a good argument, as those are public entities that must provide safeguards found under the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions. The problem for Sterling is that the NBA is a private association and is not required to provide due process rights. Sterling, moreover, contractually assented to the NBA’s system of justice through various contracts, including his franchise agreement to purchase the Clippers and the joint venture agreement, which indicates the NBA has binding authority over the teams.
Based on the remainder of Michael McCann’s article, Sterling’s chance of actually winning this case seem slim. But him taking the league to court postpones how hastily the league could remove him as owner of the Clippers.
As much as we as fans of the NBA are tired of hearing on the matter, this is a storyline that could well drag into next season. Due to the seriousness of the issue, it’s best that the NBA take their time instead of rushing to appease the players and naysayers as this will set a precedent to follow for owners now and in the future.
Living in a fantasy world where he assumes he did nothing wrong, Sterling won’t go down without a fight. As long as the fight ends with justice being served, all will be right in the world and we can focus on the good in basketball instead of the small percentage of evil that’s taken a very interesting NBA playoffs hostage.