The NBA and Donald Sterling: Probable Termination of Ownership

Sometime after the 2013-14 NBA season ends, NBA owners will vote to end Donald Sterling's ownership of the Clippers. There is no timetable on the timing of this vote, although the league has indicated it wants to resolve this as quickly as possible. Commentator Larry Coon discussed the situation that will be playing out in the months ahead.

Larry Coon

Larry Coon

Mr. Coon explained that league commissioner Adam Silver has already taken all the steps that he can take, having fined Sterling and banned him for life. He is now asking the Board of Governors of the league to take the team away from Sterling. It would require a three-fourths majority vote for this to happen. The claim will essentially be that Sterling has violated a morals clause, Coon said, referring to Article 13(d) of the NBA’s constitution. Once that happens, the league will take over ownership of the team. Both Donald and Shelly Sterling will be removed from ownership. After the league takes over the team, it will sell the team and provide the proceeds to the Sterlngs.

Coon suggested that Sterling’s interview material on CNN did not help his cause. In Coon’s view, there is no possibility that the league’s Board of Governors would not vote to take away Sterling’s ownership. “There would be too big of a revolt.” Sterling might be able to contest this by a lawsuit against the league. It is possible that Sterling might file some sort of lawsuit against the league on one ground or another. Talk that he might be suffering from dementia might suggest a lawsuit based on discrimination.

Larry Coon is a computer scientist by both education and trade. He works as an IT Director at University of California, Irvine, and has also taught university Computer Science courses, specializing in database theory. He is also an NBA analyst, a writer, and the author of the NBA Salary Cap FAQ. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.