The latest development in the evolving disaster surrounding octogenarian Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers pro basketball team revolves around the announcement by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that Sterling shall be banned from the NBA for life and must, in addition, pay a $2.5 million fine.
Though provisions exist in NBA bylaws allowing owners to expel one of their members, those provisions are limited to a current owner having the financial inability to run a team, gambling on a team or game fixing. Mr. Sterling has not been accused of any of those transgressions. His punishment is based on racially tinged comments he has allegedly made.
I have found no news reports that Mr. Sterling had any opportunity to address those who have leveled this charge.
The NBA bylaws apparently allow the other owners to act as a jury to determine whether or not Sterling can continue as the owner of the Clippers, and will allow the league to operate the team until such time as it can be sold, with the proceeds of such a sale going to Sterling.
Isn’t it big of them to allow Sterling to keep the proceeds from his own property? What a great bunch of guys. So Mr. Sterling’s property, reported to be worth in the neighborhood of $700 million, will be sold out from under him. He will have no influence, apparently, on the final price of the sale, as in saying that the prospective buyer’s offer is unacceptable. So, it is conceivable that there will be a substantial loss for Sterling on the sale of the Clippers.
And that “substantial” loss could mean a loss measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ostensibly this penalty would be levied over the remarks of Mr. Sterling which are deemed by a number of people to be “offensive.” And they are offensive. They are also incredibly stupid and another example of the incredibly rich being completely out of touch with the reality the rest of us swim in every day.
The real reason for this reaction by the owners of the teams in the NBA, however, has absolutely nothing to do with Sterling’s ill mouthings regardless of their press releases. It has much more to do with the potential loss of revenues for all the teams in the league because of cancelled TV advertising by firms who don’t even want a tinge of association with Sterling’s idiotic comments.
However much I agree with the disgust of many people over what Sterling has said, I find even more disgusting the total disregard for property ownership, and the rule of law. Sterling has a constitutional right to be offensive, and he certainly exercised that right to a fare-thee-well. But there is no constitutional provision that (a) protects anyone from being offended or (b) being able to strip someone of ownership of a property without, at the very least, an opportunity to defend himself and when the decision that decides to strip him of what many would consider vast amounts of wealth are exercised in camera.
While the NBA is a private organization and can create bylaws that only please themselves without regard to constitutional issues, they are still required to recognize the players’ right to join a union and be subject to scrutiny by the NLRB. They also have to deal with OSHA and other constitutionally supported government entities, including the IRS. So although technically the NBA owners are within their constitutional rights to act in this way, Mr. Sterling is also within his constitutional rights as well. The only difference is that there is a cheering section for Mr. Sterling to be lynched.
The disregard of the Constitution in favor of almost anyone who claims to be offened is terrifying. What comes next? Stripping the ownership of Hobby Lobby from the Green family, simply because an abortion activist is offended? Shall the ownership of Wal-Mart be taken away from the Walton family because some community organizer who is devoted to wealth redistribution is offended because they are successful and they feel the company should be run by someone more aligned with their agenda?
Or might offense be feigned over some manufactured outrage if the “offended” party wanted to force a sale at a fire-sale price that they (or their shadowy handlers) would find beneficial. Using the government’s overbearing use of power for a personal financial gain would never happen. Except perhaps to Cliven Bundy, helped along by that paragon of virtue, Harry Reid.
I will absolutely agree that Sterling’s remarks are reprehensible, but should he be punished without the benefit of law for doing something that is legal? Or has a new law been passed making verbal idiocy a capital offense? Or perhaps merely being offended is the new justification for what might be viewed as economic “honor killings”?
Cross posted at Canada Free Press