Apr 25, 2019
Racist Gaffe Machine Donald Sterling Will Not Pay The NBA One Red Cent, Thank You Very Much
In a move that surprises no one, it does not look like Donald Sterling will go gently into that good night. Reportedly, he’s not gonna pay the fine, not gonna sell the team, does not think he did anything wrong, duh, and is going to fight fight fight. Oh Donald, you’ve won our hearts already.
SI.com has learned that Clippers owner Donald Sterling has hired prominent antitrust litigator Maxwell Blecher, who has written a letter to NBA executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan threatening to sue the NBA. The letter, sources tell SI.com, claims that Sterling has done nothing wrong and that “no punishment is warranted” for Sterling. Blecher also tells Buchanan that Sterling will not pay the $2.5 million fine, which is already past due. Blecher ends the letter by saying this controversy “will be adjudicated.”
Let us preface this by saying that in our ideal world, Donald Sterling would just be forced to give up his team for the amount he paid, or that he would be fined out of existence, or carted off to a FEMA camp for re-education, or any combination of the above. But if he’s not going to go, we’ll pop some popcorn and watch him go down flailing, because you know that even the most masterful lawyer isn’t going to be able to control Sterling.
The lucky person at Sports Illustrated that has seen the actual letter from Sterling’s attorney reports that Sterling is raising two basic defenses, if you can call gibberish defenses.
First up, he says he hasn’t done anything wrong, because he says so and the NBA has no rule that can say he did. Prolly not, says anyone else, really.
Article 13 (d) bars owners from violating contractual obligations, including the obligation that owners no engage [sic] in unethical conduct or take positions adverse to the NBA. Blecher does not explain how he intends to prove Sterling’s racist remarks captured on the secret recording — followed by Sterling’s incendiary remarks to Anderson Cooper about Magic Johnson — do not give rise to unethical conduct or positions adverse to the NBA.
Pretty much. Even if he can get around the unethical conduct part, its a pretty tough argument to say that being a racist fuckwit all over the place doesn’t hurt the NBA brand and therefore constitute a position adverse to the league. But hey, Donald, give it a shot. What could go wrong?
Next, Sterling is sad because the NBA totally should have given him due process or a trial or something, because he was banned after a four-day investigation, and totally wasn’t allowed to give his ironclad defense of “bitch set me up.”
If the NBA were a federal agency or a state college, Sterling might have a good argument, as those are public entities that must provide safeguards found under the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions. The problem for Sterling is that the NBA is a private association and is not required to provide due process rights. Sterling, moreover, contractually assented to the NBA’s system of justice through various contracts, including his franchise agreement to purchase the Clippers and the joint venture agreement, which indicates the NBA has binding authority over the teams.
Capitalism. Works every time. If you don’t want to be bound by the rules of the petty not-racists at the NBA that are keeping you down, man, you do not contract with the NBA. Easy peasy.
If there’s a god in heaven, Sterling will get another long-form interview out of this lawsuit, and we’ll get material for another ten posts or so when he says something even more racist. Everybody wins!