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Los Angeles – Fight The Power! Fight The Power That Be!!!!=

 

For decades the Los Angeles Clippers were the underdogs, the back story – always overshadowed by their cross town rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, with the likes of Kareem, Worthy, Rambis, Magic, Shaq and of course, in recent years, Kobe!

 

All of that changed this past weekend, when a 31-yr-old woman named V. Stiviano, shared via taped messages with a TV outlet that Clippers owner Donald Sterling, an enigmatic 81-yr-old, married and outspoken owner, had blasted the reported mistress for associating with blacks, bringing them to Clippers games and fraternizing with his “friend” Magic Johnson, who happens to be black.

 

In the past 72 hours, we have seen a player protest by the Clippers and other teams around the league, a confused and speechless coach (Doc Rivers), a very angry and disappointed Magic Johnson, a call for advertisers to boycott (which some did like CarMax) and Golden State Warriors fans carrying signs, “I Brought A Black Person to The Game”.

 

But one question begs:  What can the NBA really do?  Sure it has the power to sanction and fine, but can it really order or ban Sterling from the league or rescind his ownership?

 

Probably not, but it can do something.

 

A team that he reportedly brought for roughly $12 million 30 plus years ago is now worth about $600 Million, according to a recent Forbes article and could sell for close to a billion.    And, the way the NBA is set up, even in losing seasons, with the billion dollar TV contracts and advertising and the likes of All-Stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the team is a good investment and Sterling won’t go easy as a result.

 

Having said all of that; here are a few things the NBA should do:

 

  1. Ask Sterling to sell the team in 30 days or less (Magic Johnson seems the obvious choice with his ownership of the Dodgers, business acumen, LA roots and most obvious: he’s black and shuts down the idiocrisy of the statements and thinking of racists like Sterling who really believe blacks are incompetent and unworthy to even attend a professional basketball game, much more own and operate a team;
  2. Ask Sterling to Step Down Immediately and remove himself from all day-to-day operations;
  3. Sanction Sterling and demand that he apologizes to the fans;
  4. Sanction Sterling and demand that he apologizes to his players, employees and Clippers staff (note, under league rules, the sanction could only be $2.5 million at most, chump change to Sterling); and
  5. Ask Sterling to commit to diversity training, among other much needed race relations training and tolerance.

 

His failure to oblige to these fair and reasonable should be met with swift action by the league to warn and notify all of his advertisers and vendors that there productions will not be featured, included or mentioned in any NBA materials or promotions and they will not be a business in good standing with the NBA or its affiliates.

 

Additionally, if he fails to comply with these reasonable requests and threatens to legally fight this matter, it would be totally appropriate and expected that the approximately 400 players that make up the NBA would join forces in unity and shut down the whole playoffs and cost the owners millions of dollars.

 

The ire of fellow owners in the boys club would put pressure on Sterling, with the ultimate fan boycott and advertisers backlash adding to his woes and most likely compliance.

 

Indeed, it is sad that the NBA Players Union got rid of former executive director Billy Hunter as this is the very moment where his guidance and legal mind would be exceptionally useful.

 

In the meantime, I applaud Michael Jordan (Charlotte Bobcats owner) and other NBA owners who spoke out and denounced Sterling for his statements.

 

I hold applause on my NAACP organization and may send back my membership if someone doesn’t explain how this gentleman got a past award from the NAACP and was supposed to receive one this year.

 

Hopefully, this incident will make us all rethink how quickly we salute folks in positions of wealth and influence.

 

While the well-known players of the Lakers stole the headlines, it was its charismatic, charming and compassionate owner Dr. Jerry Buss (RIP) who built the team to what it is today.

 

Sadly, Sterling, who partied often with Buss, never noticed with the Magics, Kareems and Kobes around Dr. Buss, one thing remained constant over the decades:  they were Black and Dr. Buss treated them with class and dignity!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  James L. Walker, Jr., is a sports and entertainment lawyer.   He can be be found at www.walkerandassoc.com or @jameslwalkeresq.  You can also email him at [email protected]