Donald Sterling Issue: The NBA’s Options
(CBS) On Tuesday, the NBA will announce its findings on an investigation into Clippers owner Donald Sterling for insensitive racial remarks he purportedly made.
Certainly, Sterling has to be punished somehow if he’s found guilty, but given that there’s little precedent for such an ordeal, no one is certain what may happen. Ahead of that, here’s some answers to the questions that many have, courtesy of CBSSports.com insider Ken Berger.
Q: What happens once the investigation is concluded?
A: If Sterling is found to have made the comments, this is where attention turns to the NBA’s Constitution and By-Laws, which governs all aspects of league business falling outside the collectively bargained work arrangement with the players. This is not a public document, and I have never seen it. All Silver said regarding its governance of potential owner discipline is that it contains “broad powers” that include “a range of sanctions.” Among those obviously is a fine, since the NBA fines people all the time (especially Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban). A suspension of definite or indefinite length also is believed to be included in those broad powers. As was the case with Major League Baseball and late Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, a suspension also could include orders for the owner to be removed from the day-to-day business and basketball operations of the team.
Q: Can the NBA force an owner to sell a team?
A: This is not believed to be among the “broad powers” in the Constitution and By-Laws. Even in the case of Schott, who was suspended multiple times for making racially insensitive remarks, she was eventually pressured to sell the Reds in 1999 — but only after years of pressure from baseball and fellow owners, and only after General Motors accused her of falsifying car sales with the names of team employees at a Chevrolet dealership she had since sold. Even then, Schott reaped the financial benefit of the sale and retained one ownership share as well as 21 box seats and a luxury suite, according to this story from the Cincinnati Enquirer. She died in 2004 at age 75.