A report has surfaced today that says Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will sue the NBA if the league votes for force him sell his franchise. In fact, the source close to Sterling that was cited in the report said that he is not going to sell the team. This could wind up in a legal battle that drags on while not giving the league or the Clippers any sense of closure on the topic.
Should the legal proceedings last into next season, which they almost certainly would, the league needs to make an even bigger statement than it already has. The league should grant any and all players and staff the option to opt out of their current contracts as long as Sterling is the owner of the team. Had any big business owner made the same comments he did, any affected employees would be able to leave on the basis of workplace discrimination alone.
While Sterling didn’t directly discriminate against his players, since his views and latest actions have come to light, he has lost the support of just about everyone in the organization, both black and white. If he’s going to refuse to sell the team, the league needs to give him motivation to do so. By letting any and all players and staff leave it would become an issue of money for Sterling, and that’s his sole purpose for owning the franchise in the first place.
Yes, the league fined him $2.5 million along with handing him a lifetime ban, but that’s less than what he will make on the Clippers’ playoff run alone. How much money do you think All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are worth? It’s a safe bet that Sterling doesn’t want to find out the answer to that question. Once the league makes it about money, Sterling will be more likely to bow out.
As if Sterling’s comments hadn’t done enough damage to the NBA community, his latest actions are threatening an entire franchise. That franchise, the Clippers, is a franchise that has played second fiddle to the Los Angeles Lakers for several decades and are just now shedding their “little brother” status in the L.A. Should Sterling continue to fight, they will return right back to “little brother” status, and the selfish actions of one man will have outdone the tireless efforts of hundreds more.