This is not a prediction. This is an expectation.
NBA team owners will vote unanimously to uphold the punishment meted out to Los Angeles Clippers owner donald sterling. How could they not? Any owner who voted against it would be seen as a racist apologist…and would be tarred and feathered by the players, the media, and (outwardly at least) most fans and most other owners. He/she would be an outcast and pariah, unable to sign free agents with ad revenue dropping right and left. Far too high a price to pay.
donald sterling, having had everything taken away from him, therefore nothing to lose, will do what he continually has done for decades: seek redress in a court of law.
The NBA will contend sterling has no case because his agreement with the league states that its decision is binding.
sterling will counter that the entire basis for the NBA\’s decision is an illegally-made tape (California has a two-party consent law) and, in any event, he is entitled to his free speech even if the NBA doesn\’t like what he says.
sterling will also point out that the NBA has a history of not invoking this kind of ruling. He will make it clear that, if this goes to trial, he will prove his point by airing every racist comment from every player, other owner, etc. he can find (and there are a ton of them) – very much including New York Knickerbocker executive larry johnson\’s tweet, made after the sterling tapes were publicized, that he would like to see a basketball league of Black players only: no Whites, Asians, etc. need apply. sterling will point out that, unlike him, johnson was subjected to no penalty at all.
The NBA, knowing that the coverage of this trial is going to be huge – maybe even live, as it was with the OJ trial – has to decide whether it wants to do battle in court, where its industrial-strength load of dirty linen will be exposed to the international press in a way that, while not exonerating donald sterling, will demonstrate that he is just one of many, and possibly prove to a jury that he is unfairly being singled out.
If that were to occur, damage to the NBA brand – every team, not just the Clippers – could run into the billions.
Anyone who thinks this ended with Commissioner Adam Silver\’s crowd-pleasing punishment speech is living in a dream world. And any NBAer who thinks donald sterling does not have the capacity to take a lot of people down with him, is living on another planet altogether.