NBA has not heard the last of Donald Sterling

For the moment Donald Sterling sits alone in the NBA circus.
For the moment Donald Sterling sits alone in the NBA circus.

OK, yesterday belonged to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and he proved that he was ready to send a statement that there was no room for racism, not only in his league, but in the United States. He hit Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with the biggest penalty that he was able to dole out.

Lifetime ban, fine $2.5 million and Silver will urge the owners to force Sterling to sell the franchise, which takes 75 percent vote of the NBA owners. Anyone who might have thought the new commissioner was going to punish the Clippers owner over a period time were quickly silenced.

So Tuesday belonged to the NBA laying down the law and now everyone is waiting to see what Sterling is going to do if anything. Most people in the NBA feel that Sterling will not go quietly into the night and that he will be in court with the league.

There are two main ways he could go in this situation:

1. Call a press conference to beg the communities forgiveness and announce that there will be no need for an NBA vote, he will sell the team voluntarily.

2. He could sue the league and open up a very public trial that could cast a shadow on other NBA owners.

In this morning’s edition of the LA Times,  they did an outstanding job of laying out some of the options Sterling has to look over.

Cari Grieb, a professor of sports law at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, said Clippers owner Donald Sterling has no recourse to fight the lifetime ban issued by the NBA on Tuesday because of language that exists in his franchise agreement with the league.

“The constitution reads it’s binding just like arbitration,” Grieb said.

However, Grieb said she expected Sterling to fight the potential forced sale of his team because the league’s constitution allows expulsion of an owner only under circumstances such as gambling, fraud or an inability to fulfill a contractual obligation to the league.

 “Donald Sterling is paying his players,” Grieb said. “There were no economic issues like you saw with the Dodgers and MLB or with the [New Orleans] Hornets in 2010 when the league had to take over the team. So here, a question whether or not the league can really terminate Donald Sterling’s franchise agreement is a question that Donald Sterling is going to litigate.”

Grieb said Sterling could file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA if he was forced to sell the team for what he believed was less than market value. MORE …