By Jay Kirell
There’s been a lot of speculation about what Adam Silver and the NBA will do about the Donald Sterling situation. Amongst an outcry from fans and players, including a mini-protest by Clippers players before their playoff game against Golden State, the league is faced with many options for how to nudge Sterling out.
As commissioner, Silver could straight up ask Sterling to sell the team. Of course, Sterling could just easily say no, and based on the bunker-mentality he seems to show when dealing with his litany of legal and personal accusations, it would shock no one if he declined divesting his interest.
Silver could suspend the Clippers owner, which would give Sterling a bruised ego, but leave him still the one signing the checks, which would still upset the players and ruin any chances the team has of signing free agents in the offseason.
He could have the league pursue legal action against Sterling to force his ouster, whether that be by suing him to force an immediate sale at set price determined by an arbiter and accept the highest bidder within a short period, and in the meantime have the league assume day-to-day control of the team. That might make some happy in the short-term and earn the league some good PR, but would ultimately lead to months, if not years, of legal wrangling. Sterling and his legal team could tie up the case in court well past next season, which again, would still leave him signing the checks.
Considering the league’s constitution is confidential, there’s no way of knowing just what recourse is available that would have an immediate-enough impact to send a message.
But there might be one option available to the league. One that has been used in the past against owners:
According to Forbes, the Los Angeles Clippers are worth $575 million.
My suggestion to the league is to present Donald Sterling with an option:
Immediately start fielding offers from investors interested in assuming ownership of the Clippers, or face a fine.
A $575 million fine.
If the NBA’s constitution has a limit on the amount a single individual fine, say $500,000 (based on the highest fines levied against Maverics owner Marc Cuban and Heat owner Micky Arison) then threaten to fine him $500,000 every day until he agrees to sell the team.
By the start of the 2014-2015 NBA season that would add up to $90 million.
Because for a noted cheapskate as well as racist, green is the only color Donald Sterling has shown he cares about.