May 16, 2014

If Donald Sterling sues, he "could attempt to use pretrial discovery to portray NBA owners as hypocritical."

"He'd argue that if he is being expelled over bigoted comments, he'd want to know why other owners haven't suffered the same fate over similar statements. Along those lines, Sterling would likely demand that former commissioner David Stern testify about his knowledge of owner misconduct."
The NBA is well-poised to argue that Sterling's pending ouster is mainly due to the impact of his conduct -- which nearly triggered a player boycott, caused sponsors to drop the Clippers and led to critical words from President Obama -- rather than the conduct itself.
How "well-poised" do you think that argument is? The legal question seems to depend on rules that the owners all signed onto and whether Sterling violated those rules, not on whether other people were ready to engage in damaging conduct in response to things Sterling said.

More legal details here.

54 comments:

Michael K said...

I still think whole thing is a setup and Magic Johnson may be behind it. Discovery would be interesting if they find a connection between Johnson and the tape.

Matthew Sablan said...

Before pretrial discovery, the answer could be that their comments were not made public to embarrass the NBA. That was Sterling's real sin, as far as the NBA is concerned.

If he'd kept his private comments private, they wouldn't have cared.

madAsHell said...

I have to believe Mr. Sterling was set up, but I don't think the conspirators considered all the possible outcomes. Sterling didn't become rich while shrinking in the face of adversity.

I just don't see how the NBA can resolve this without damaging the entire league.

YoungHegelian said...

How about the fact that the bugging of Sterling's private conversation was illegal under California law?

It would seem to me, lawyer that I'm not, that attempts to use an illegally obtained conversation against someone in a court of law would constitute a "fruits of the poisoned tree" situation.

While the players & fans are free to behave towards Sterling as they see fit, I doubt that the NBA will be able to legally push Sterling to do anything he doesn't want to do.

Were it me & I was an angry old geezer with one foot in the grave anyway, I'd say "Fuck 'em" and take down the whole team & what I could of the NBA. While Sterling's no charmer, it's not like anyone comes off as a decent human being in any of this.

mccullough said...

This article doesn't mention what happens when Shelley files for divorce. Then there is no unity of interest, and the NBA will have to deal with her separately. To try and oust her under its morals clause would be a joke. Silver already said she isn't subject to the ban and can attend games, etc. Also, the lack of female owners in the NBA will become an issue. With any luck Sterling will die soon and then it will really get complicated.

On a basketball note, the Clippers are still not good enough to contend for a title. Blake Griffin is a good player, and Chris Paul is excellent, but they aren't enough.

Humperdink said...

If Sterling makes good on his threat, we will to buy popcorn by the truckload for the upcoming show.

Anonymous said...

"led to critical words from President Obama"

He should absolutely lose his team for displeasing Dear Leader. He should thank his lucky stars that he lives in the Country of the Free. If he lived in other banana republics he would lose his head too.

Praise be to the merciful Dear Leader.

Skeptical Voter said...

Interesting lawsuit ready to play out. Donald Sterling supposedly approached 8 law firms who turned him down. Doesn't say much about the courage of big time Los Angeles law firms who don't want their lily white skirts sullied by association with Sterling.

He found a legal paladin in Max Blecher--a long time plaintiff's antitrust lawyer here in Southern California. Max is good, and he's got an elbows and, figuratively speaking knees to the groin, approach to litigation.

Mrs. Sterling has hired Pierce O'Donnell--a big time litigator who's represented a lot of Hollywood and film industry figures.

If Sterling--who's not the physically strongest of characters at age 80, can man up enough to do an Al Davis scorched earth litigation approach, there'll be some interesting stories coming out.

OTOH, both Sterlings are well known for keeping a very close eye on the bottom line, main chance etc. Right now the Clippers are at a peak in their market value. Extended litigation could cause the team to fall apart, and the value to plummet.

Let's see if greed trumps gall.

Anonymous said...

madAsHell said...
I have to believe Mr. Sterling was set up

It was a conspiracy of silence to cover up the rich and famous Democratic donor's racism, it needs a set up to dismantle the conspiracy.

Set up or not, Sterling is a racist, a bigot who pays money to Democrats for protection. He should sue the Democratic politicians for not protecting him.

cubanbob said...

The fans could do as they wish but the reality is that very few will actually boycott. Its just PC noise. The players could boycott as long as they accept not getting paid as per breach of contract. Just how many are willing to take the financial hit remains to be seen. The NBA will in the end cut a deal with Sterling and buy him out at a price that is more or less market price prior to the incident and Sterling will take it.

Cedarford said...

I add to Young Hegelian - it was illegally taped conversation of private individual utterances - not public - and not related to his capacity as an owner. Where what "rules" of owner conduct probably will be interpreted to apply....not to personal,private talks or beliefs where Sterling legally enjoys an expectation of privacy.

It also seems rational that Sterling's lawyers go after the Nooky girl - given the adverse high consequences he faces - Financially and to his good name and reputation.
Was there a criminal conspiracy that went past Nooky girl to include others that conspired to illegally wiretap Sterling for financial gain and to damage his public standing??

So I think the lawyers are going to feast on

madAsHell said...

Sterling is a racist

At best, he is guilty of a thought crime.

a bigot who pays money to Democrats for protection.

Obviously, he didn't pay enough money. Although, I don't think the conspiracy runs through the party. I have to believe the V. Steviano was humping Magic's Johnson when the plan was......concocted.

damikesc said...

Jay-Z is a part owner of a team. I bet his lyrics will be hard to explain. Courts don't buy into the whole "Well, I can say this but you cannot" thing.

Before pretrial discovery, the answer could be that their comments were not made public to embarrass the NBA. That was Sterling's real sin, as far as the NBA is concerned

The illegal recording and publicizing of the comments are going to be rough in terms of justifying the punishment.

And Sterling qould be an idiot to take a buyout and pay capital gains when his kids can inherit it at a far lower cost.

Amexpat said...

t would seem to me, lawyer that I'm not, that attempts to use an illegally obtained conversation against someone in a court of law would constitute a "fruits of the poisoned tree" situation.

I don't think that would work as the obtaining of evidence was not done by a government agency. Except for the 13th Amendment, the civil liberties in the Constitution are meant to protect citizens' rights from government abuse, not from abuse by private parties.

Perhaps there's some state statutory law banning the use of this type of evidence.

Mark O said...

Max will make them very unhappy.

The "impure heart" test for NBA ownership may not hold up in court.

Tank said...

damikesc said...

***

And Sterling could be an idiot to take a buyout and pay capital gains when his kids can inherit it at a far lower cost.


I've read that he owns the team via a trust. That would change the capital gains calculation (as in it would be irrelevant?).

The Crack Emcee said...

damikesc,

"Jay-Z is a part owner of a team. I bet his lyrics will be hard to explain."

ROTFLMAO!!!

Mark O said...

I asked this the other day, without response, but I try anew.

Is it racist to tell your children you would like them to marry within your race?

Is it racist to want to adopt a child that is only of your race?

Kirk Parker said...

"I just don't see how the NBA can resolve this without damaging the entire league."

So... are there any downsides?

Matthew Sablan said...

"The illegal recording and publicizing of the comments are going to be rough in terms of justifying the punishment."

-- I agree. The NBA was hoping it would not reach this point. This is going to be interesting because, from everything I've seen, Sterling is an entirely unsympathetic character, normally. He says kind of jerkish things, and I don't think I'd enjoy to spend time with him. The question is, how much bullying will it take before the public conscious clicks and they view him as a victim?

[It'll be a LOT easier to view him that way if there turns out to really be a shadow conspiracy out to get him. But, I don't think there is one.]

Phil said...

This is highly simplified, but Federal capital gains are 20% of the increase in value (plus what, 3% medicaid?), while Federal estate tax on that size estate is 40% of everything over $10 million (if married and certain other issues are handled properly, otherwise only 5mil); not sure how leaving it to his kids is going to reduce the taxes. And it may be in a trust, but if he exercises control over the team (and it sure sounds like he does), then it's still part of the estate, and therefore subject to estate tax.

damikesc said...

ROTFLMAO!!!

Yes, lawyers, arguing that there is a double standard here, would never consider looking at the work of Jay-Z, the quite public recordings (that they thought weren't bad enough to forbid him from being in the league) and note that...yeah, there is a touch of inconsistency there.

You focus on racism too much and not basic justice. Would YOU want to have comments YOU make in private publicized and used to attack you?

If you have no problems with that, then perhaps you should restart the Stasi. You'd fit in well.

readering said...

For those show say Donald Sterling was set up, remember this was all the direct fallout of Shelley Sterling's litigation against the woman who made the recording to recover so-called community property. The idea behind the lawsuit is that when it comes to community property the two Sterlings stand and fall together. Now the NBA decrees they will fall together. Filing for divorce a this point won't save either one of them.

grackle said...

I just don't see how the NBA can resolve this without damaging the entire league.

There's damage and there's existential damage. A player boycott could be very damaging and could eventually lead to the creation of a rival league. That outcome would represent the loss of billions, perhaps many billions. That's a lot of damage.

The fans could do as they wish but the reality is that very few will actually boycott.

The old ABA(the American Basketball Association) siphoned off a lot of revenue AND fans back in the Dr. J and the Iceman days. That loss of revenue and fans had to be the main reason the NBA merged with the ABA. The NBA tried to ignore the ABA but had to cry "uncle" after only 9 short seasons of competition.

Just how many[NBA players] are willing to take the financial hit remains to be seen.

Realize that a new league could draft the best college players just the same as the NBA. And there's the problem of big-name NBA free agents crossing over to a new league. The NBA is not a plantation. It would not be able to prevent this, just as it could not prevent it with the ABA. If I were the agent of a top college player entering the draft my only considerations would be money and opportunity to play. I wouldn't give a damn which league outbid the other.

I will opine again: The NBA owners would do well to hold a public vote, which better have NO dissenters and do it soon. The longer they wait the more chance for extreme damage to them. A secrete vote would only create suspicion.

I ask myself, "How many billionaires would love to invest in a new professional basketball franchise?" I answer myself, "Plenty."

It occurred to me that Sterling may be trying to jack up the price of a buyout with these threats to "fight" the owners' sanctions against him.

Birches said...

Then there is no unity of interest, and the NBA will have to deal with her separately. To try and oust her under its morals clause would be a joke. Silver already said she isn't subject to the ban and can attend games, etc. Also, the lack of female owners in the NBA will become an issue.

NBA #WaronWomen
They won't be able to force Mrs. Sterling out, no matter how hard they try.

grackle said...

You focus on racism too much and not basic justice. Would YOU want to have comments YOU make in private publicized and used to attack you?

This comment misses the point. Firstly, what's legal is not necessarily what's fair OR just.

And no, I would not necessarily want my private conversations made public. But if they were made public, legally or not, if they were racist comments there would be consequences. The cliché that obtains is, "The cat's out of the bag."

Perhaps Sterling would sue whoever made the recordings and perhaps the person who made the recordings would end up arrested, tried, convicted and in jail but Sterling's racist comments would STILL be known Рand there WILL be consequences. The legality of the recordings is irrelevant as far as Sterling's eventual fate is concerned. Sterling is NOT going to be forgiven by the players or the owners. Not now, not ever. The relevant clich̩: "You can't put the genie back into the bottle."

Besides, his recent public utterances in interviews agreed to by him, which were not secretly recorded is more than enough to sink his boat with the players, owners and many fans. He's toast. He's gone. He needs to find a new hobby.

jr565 said...

I don't think they have a very good case where they could force an owner to sell. And I"m SURE there are other owners and/or players who've said pretty outlandish things.
I also wouldn't be surprised if Sterling wasn't aware of many of those instances.

damikesc said...

The legality of the recordings is irrelevant as far as Sterling's eventual fate is concerned. Sterling is NOT going to be forgiven by the players or the owners.

The players, to be gentle, aren't exactly blessed with intellect or a wealth of useful skills. They won't be able to make a new league. The NBA doesn't exactly light it up in the ratings as is --- what network will alienate the NBA and televise a rival league? A tiny one, with little viewership (Fox Sports 1, MAYBE) and that'd kill the league before it could get going.

The ABA was dying. It begged the NBA to buy them out. Not many billionaires willing to blow billions on something unlikely to succeed or even break even.

traditionalguy said...

I doubt Mr Bacquet is even 5% African American. His appearance is that of an Octaroon which were a favored class of free men and women in French creole New Orleans.

But our Justice Thomas appears to be of 100% west African slaves descended from cargoes sold in Coastal Georgia to work Gullah speaking Plantation islands.

The popular Myth of the imminent Uprising of Angry Black Men is what started the South's Secession.

That myth was Clarence Thomas's problem. He understood the "electronic lynching" he was undergoing was the traditional southern response to that angry black African man meme.

So Jill's fated encounter came more at the hands of a descendant of a French American freedman than from an African American man.

Hagar said...

Aren't these ball leagues exempt from whole stacks of laws that would apply to any other business enterprises?
Perhaps it is time to ask if there are any valid reasons why they should be exempt?

Anonymous said...

Whether the NBA has a legal case under section 13d depends on the wording of the covenants to which the owners of the Clippers franchise agreed, and SI apparently doesn't know what those covenants say...at least the article doesn't provide that sort of information. Moreover, while everyone identifies the Sterlings as the co-owners of the Clippers, apparently Sterling (as a good attorney) set up a private trust to serve as the legal owner of the club. Presumably, then, it is the trust the NBA will have to litigate against in order to force a sale. The SI article doesn't reveal to us the specific nature of the trust arrangement that's involved, but that's not surprising because the details, while presumably well known to the NBA, are undoubtedly highly confidential.

Anonymous said...

Whether the NBA has a legal case under section 13d depends on the wording of the covenants to which the owners of the Clippers franchise agreed, and SI apparently doesn't know what those covenants say...at least the article doesn't provide that sort of information. Moreover, while everyone identifies the Sterlings as the co-owners of the Clippers, apparently Sterling (as a good attorney) set up a private trust to serve as the legal owner of the club. Presumably, then, it is the trust the NBA will have to litigate against in order to force a sale. The SI article doesn't reveal to us the specific nature of the trust arrangement that's involved, but that's not surprising because the details, while presumably well known to the NBA, are undoubtedly highly confidential.

mccullough said...

Grackle,

The NBA has long term TV deals in place that would make it a practical impossibility to launch a rival league. The USFL lasted a few years. A rival NBA league would never get launched.

Birches said...

There's no way they could make a rival league. Most of the players and media thump their chests a lot about Sterling's evil, but when push comes to shove, they won't actually do anything about a years long legal battle that will probably result in some Sterlings retaining control of the team.

People knew what type of guy Donald Sterling was long before this whole kerfluffle. And they still took his paychecks willingly.

jr565 said...

"Jay-Z is a part owner of a team. I bet his lyrics will be hard to explain."

ROTFLMAO!!!"


Not just his lyrics, but also his wearing of a 5 per center medallion. If you live in NYC you'll have some experience with them. They used to stand on the corner, dressed in vaguely medieval looking outfits and harangue passers by about how evil white people are. Far more racist than anything that sterling uttered. If Jay Z is associated with them, and holding racist views is enough to lose your stake in a team, then he should simply for wearing the medallion. If this is the world that the NBA wants to live in.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2598174/Jay-Z-causes-controversy-wearing-medallion-group-believe-whites-wicked-weak.html

grackle said...

The players, to be gentle, aren't exactly blessed with intellect or a wealth of useful skills. They won't be able to make a new league.

To be frank(as opposed to "gentle"), I wonder just how the commentor arrived at these opinions. IQ tests? Poring over resumes? Investigating college transcripts? Inquiring minds want to know.

I saw a sports analyst the other day – cannot remember which one – offer his observation that the NBA is a "player driven" organization. Meaning that the NBA players are more important to the NBA than in years past. If Lebron James farts in Miami you can be sure that the folks in the NBA's NYC headquarters will crinkle their noses.

The NBA doesn't exactly light it up in the ratings as is --- what network will alienate the NBA and televise a rival league? A tiny one, with little viewership (Fox Sports 1, MAYBE) and that'd kill the league before it could get going.

Here's what Wiki says:

Despite the problems in the early-to-mid-2000s (decade), the NBA's regular season ratings average was (and is) on par with Major League Baseball's, and ratings for the finals continue to outdraw competing events that occur during the same month, such as golf's U.S. Open and the Stanley Cup Finals.

http://tinyurl.com/25bjo5

So … the NBA ratings are second only to the NFL, which as everyone knows has gigantic ratings, and the NBA ratings are on a par with MLB. To my mind such a situation doesn't indicate weakness. And taken as a whole there's a logic problem contained within the comment:

The NBA is weak(because of low ratings) yet is so strong that the TV networks are fearful of it. Yikes.

The ABA was dying. It begged the NBA to buy them out.

I believe the ABA WAS weak now that I've done more research but not exactly dying in the sense that I believe the NBA did miss out on some significant revenues from the competition. Here's part of Wiki's interpretation of the NBA/ABA merger:

In addition to the four surviving ABA teams[the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs], eight current NBA markets have ABA heritage: Utah, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans, Memphis, and Charlotte all had an ABA team before the NBA arrived.

However, I'll concede a point, that is … that the ABA should not have been characterized by me as having made the NBA "cry uncle." It's obvious I went a bit too far on that one.

But I also believe some things have changed since those days.

Unlike the years when the ABA existed there are no longer a mere 3 networks(ABC, CBS & NBC) calling the shots. Now there are a multitude of cable networks so numerous as to be able to specialize themselves into sports, reality, news, history, science, etc. The TV landscape has changed drastically.

I believe some network or other would be willing to broadcast a new basketball league. Something called "arena football," MMA style pugilism contests, snow-boarding style winter sports – all these are relatively new sports that are finding audiences on TV. Who would've dreamed of that back, say, in the 1980s?

The players are commanding bigger contracts and are so important overall to the league that some stars are considered to be "coach-killers."

Previous NBA player/NBA owner disputes, the "lockouts," have cost both sides dearly. Those disputes were about salary and compensation. This time the dispute would be about racism, a more emotionally charged issue. Wouldn't the players, being 80% black and obviously sensitive on the subject, be more implacable than in past disputes?

Michael said...

Sterling has a lot of money. He can offer a hundred grand for tapes of player comments that are racist. He can get ten of them for a million dollars, ten that would be orders of magnitudes more vile thanhis own utterances. He can take the "conversation" from there.

grackle said...

One of my original statements: "The legality of the recordings is irrelevant as far as Sterling's eventual fate is concerned. Sterling is NOT going to be forgiven by the players or the owners."

Although bolded by another commentor in a comment opposed to mine – I still see nothing in that comment or subsequent comments that can credibly dispute my statement.

Sterling will never be forgiven. The alleged illegality of the recording will not save Sterling. Sterling will remain outlawed.

grackle said...

Grackle, The NBA has long term TV deals in place that would make it a practical impossibility to launch a rival league. The USFL lasted a few years. A rival NBA league would never get launched.

I'm failing to see how "TV deals in place" would make it impossible to launch a rival league. This old bonehead needs a tad more convincing than that. But I thank the commentor for trying to further my knowledge – which can be a difficult task, I'll admit.

There's no way they could make a rival league. Most of the players and media thump their chests a lot about Sterling's evil, but when push comes to shove, they won't actually do anything about a years long legal battle that will probably result in some Sterlings retaining control of the team.

Well … All I can say is that as of this moment no member of the Sterling family is in control of the team. Other people are running the team. People installed by the NBA.

About the most we can say about any member of the Sterling family in regards to the NBA is that Sterling's wife has been allowed by the NBA to continue to attend the games. I think even that small generosity could be withdrawn if the lady continues to pop off on TV about fighting the NBA.

People knew what type of guy Donald Sterling was long before this whole kerfluffle. And they still took his paychecks willingly …

This comment seems to be about what the commentor takes to be the NBA's hypocrisy. Maybe so – but again it misses the point. Hypocritical NBA or not, Sterling is NOT going to be forgiven. He's banned and he's likely to remain banned.

The Crack Emcee said...

damikesc,

"Yes, lawyers, arguing that there is a double standard here, would never consider looking at the work of Jay-Z, the quite public recordings (that they thought weren't bad enough to forbid him from being in the league) and note that...yeah, there is a touch of inconsistency there."

What "inconsistency"? Was he caught saying no "hoes" can come to his games?

"You focus on racism too much and not basic justice. Would YOU want to have comments YOU make in private publicized and used to attack you?"

Sure - I don't say racist shit. I'm on the radio. I write online. I talk to people all the time, saying pretty much the same shit y'all scream "racism" for, and only you don't get it - that it's YOU who espouse an ahistorical frame of reference that'll get you trouble.

I'm not worried about it.

"If you have no problems with that, then perhaps you should restart the Stasi. You'd fit in well."

I'm black - whites have deprived us of everything, at some times in our history, your precious privacy being the least of it. Whites don't seem too moved about that - whether in the past or today.

Excuse me for saving my anguish if whites now "find themselves" in a similar situation.

If only they could find the capacity for humanity,...

damikesc said...

To be frank(as opposed to "gentle"), I wonder just how the commentor arrived at these opinions. IQ tests? Poring over resumes? Investigating college transcripts? Inquiring minds want to know.

All of the above.

You can be intentionally obtuse if you so desire, but the lack of education of sports stars isn't exactly an unknown phenomenon.

So … the NBA ratings are second only to the NFL

Comparing them to MLB, who ALSO have terrible ratings, is hardly high praise.

Saying their ratings are second only to the NFL is like saying the XFL was the second biggest pro football league in America behind only the NFL in their existence. Technically true, but it misses the story dramatically.

I believe some network or other would be willing to broadcast a new basketball league. Something called "arena football," MMA style pugilism contests, snow-boarding style winter sports – all these are relatively new sports that are finding audiences on TV. Who would've dreamed of that back, say, in the 1980s?

UFC isn't lighting the world on fire with FOX (they've been slipping in ratings and PPV buys for a few years as they have done a poor job creating new stars to replace their retired/falling stars) and many fighters have complained about terrible payoffs for a while now. Arena football is an afterthought with ratings that can generously be described as anemic. Their league has existed for a few decades now and few can play for them and not have side jobs because there isn't much money there.

A new league can expect much smaller revenue streams than the NBA has and can pay far less than international clubs (where the players do not want to go). They have precious little leverage here. Scab NBA could make more money than a new start up league.

Previous NBA player/NBA owner disputes, the "lockouts," have cost both sides dearly. Those disputes were about salary and compensation. This time the dispute would be about racism, a more emotionally charged issue. Wouldn't the players, being 80% black and obviously sensitive on the subject, be more implacable than in past disputes?

The owners are already rich. They don't NEED the NBA.

The players desperately need the NBA.

There isn't a comparison in power. If the owners are willing to play hardball, the players will have no choice but to cave.

Although bolded by another commentor in a comment opposed to mine – I still see nothing in that comment or subsequent comments that can credibly dispute my statement.

Sterling will never be forgiven. The alleged illegality of the recording will not save Sterling. Sterling will remain outlawed.


Courts trump the NBA and he isn't going to go away quietly, nor will his wife.

damikesc said...

I'm failing to see how "TV deals in place" would make it impossible to launch a rival league.

Grackle, pretty much every deal includes language that they cannot air competition of that league.

What "inconsistency"? Was he caught saying no "hoes" can come to his games?

The charge is racism. Are you going to argue racism does not exist in Jay Z's work?

I know you're shaky on things, but you cannot be that blind.

Sure - I don't say racist shit.

Well, it's clear, you don't read what you write. It's for the best.

I'm black - whites have deprived us of everything, at some times in our history, your precious privacy being the least of it. Whites don't seem too moved about that - whether in the past or today.

Crack, will you ever realize how little of a shit I give about the plight of black folks?

I. Do. Not. Care. What. Happened. Before. I. Was. Born. A black man mugged me once. I have more of a claim towards hating blacks than you have for your animosity towards whites who are quite tolerant of your nonsense.

It didn't happen to you. And I didn't do it. Expecting me to feel guilt over mistreatment is a silly hope.

If only they could find the capacity for humanity,...

Whites fought and died to end slavery.

Blacks STILL SELL SLAVES TO THIS DAY.

Tell me more about humanity.

Fen said...

Racist: "I don't say racist shit."

Racist: "I'm white - blacks have deprived us of everything"


Really beginning to wonder if Crack is parody.

grackle said...

You can be intentionally obtuse if you so desire, but the lack of education of sports stars isn't exactly an unknown phenomenon.

I see. The commentor apparently believes anyone without a degree is not intelligent. Interesting.

Another obtuseness, in the form of a couple of questions:

Is it more intelligent to forgo the NBA draft in order to get a degree and maybe get injured, missing out on millions? Or is it more intelligent to take the wealth and leave college early? Just wondering …

UFC isn't lighting the world on fire … as they have done a poor job creating new stars to replace their retired/falling stars … and many fighters have complained about terrible payoffs … Arena football is an afterthought with ratings that can generously be described as anemic … etc.

I don't know what the commentor means exactly with the "lighting the world on fire" phrase but the UFC seems to be making money these days. There's info at Wiki that's a bit too disjointed to be quoted but a link to the page is:

http://tinyurl.com/h2rea

The readers will judge for themselves but to me it paints the picture of a sport that has had growing pains but is doing pretty well lately, especially for a sport in its infancy. The long early years of the NBA were bumpy as well, likewise the NFL, which initially went through many permutations. Back in those days MLB was king and no one imagined that it could ever be surpassed. Yet here we are – serenely witnessing what was previously unimaginable.

The owners are already rich. They don't NEED the NBA. The players desperately need the NBA. There isn't a comparison in power. If the owners are willing to play hardball, the players will have no choice but to cave.

Hmmm … Power – to the commentor money means power. I think so too but I allow for exceptions. Previous disputes were about salary and compensation. This time, if it happens, the dispute will be about racism. To me that's quite a different thing. I think it could change the neat formula the commentor has presented. I try to imagine NBA players playing for Sterling. I can't, no matter how hard I try I just cannot picture that ever happening.

Courts trump the NBA and he isn't going to go away quietly, nor will his wife.

Well .. so far the Sterlings have restricted themselves to mere words. And awkward, inept, sometimes racist verbalizations to boot. No lawsuit yet, even though Sterling is banned for life and isn't running the franchise. I suspect Sterling is angling for a settlement.

If the SI sports legal specialist cannot figure out certain legal angles I certainly don't think I could do better. And I don't think the commentor can either.

Anonymous said...

In private, the NBA likely knows its legal case against the Sterlings will go nowhere and is trying to use public pressure to force the Sterlings out. I suspect the Sterlings ultimately are willing to sell the Clippers franchise if they can get a price that's close to the estimated market value of 1 billion dollars AND if they can extract another 2-3 hundred million dollars, most likely directly from the other owners in the league, to offset their capital gains taxes on the sale. The other NBA clubs can throw the dice and go the legal route or they can try to negotiate a buyout in order to rid themselves of the Sterlings, but either way it is going to prove very expensive for them.

n.n said...

Ideally, he will not stop with the bigotry of his associates, but confront the mass bigotry which forms the foundation of the civil rights protection racket.

damikesc said...

Crackle, I follow UFC closely. They have significant problems. Their declines in ratings and PPV buys are a large concern. Their next TV deal will be less lucrative than their current one. Their lack of marketable stars (Jones and Rousey are the only real new ones and fans hate them) is a concern. Their growth was largely due to a fortunate influx of stars from Japanese promotions like Pride and good fortune. They've had far less good fortune.

grackle said...

Crackle, I follow UFC closely. They have significant problems. Their declines in ratings and PPV buys are a large concern.

Growing pains that I admit could be fatal. The Wiki page linked in my previous comment seems to offer hope, though.

Their next TV deal will be less lucrative than their current one.

But the one after that could be more lucrative. Ups and downs. Other sports, now successful, have had the same.

Their lack of marketable stars (Jones and Rousey are the only real new ones and fans hate them) is a concern.

The fights I've seen – I view them whenever I can – have been entertaining enough for me.

Their growth was largely due to a fortunate influx of stars from Japanese promotions like Pride and good fortune. They've had far less good fortune.

Opinion, we all have our opinions. I have a different slant.

Boxing has declined in popularity. For me personally that decline began with the concept of PPV. I have never watched a PPV event and never will. Bob Arum and Don King were two of the culprits. They took the big money. I don't blame them. But I think every PPV in a sport is an invisible nail in a sport's coffin.

PPV is hugely lucrative for promoters and athletes. And diehard fans will pay to see the events. But I think it does nothing long-term for the popularity of the sport that indulges in it. I think a sport looking for a larger fan base has to be freely available to the general public on their TVs. The uninitiated public, potential fans, need to be able to stumble across events as they are channel-flipping. Or be informed about upcoming events by friends and acquaintances. That's how I was exposed to MMA years ago during the Royce Gracie days – channel-flipping during an idle moment. I was immediately hooked. After that, I sought the out the sport.

The best athletes and events need to be accessible to potential fans as well as the enthusiastic followers of the sport.

Readers, imagine if you will, if the Superbowl, the World Series or the NBA final playoff was PPV. What would happen to the fan base? Would you pay? I would not.

Beldar said...

Sterling's lawyers would have a difficult time overcoming objections to the relevance of such discovery. "Being a hypocrite" isn't a tort or a breach of contract or otherwise actionable in civil courts.

If Sterling's lawyers demand, for example, "all emails from NBA owners which include racial slurs," for example, the NBA owners will object, and the judge will ask Sterling's lawyers something like this: "Suppose there are emails with racial slurs. What would that evidence be admissible to prove?"

"To show that the other NBA owners are also racists, Your Honor!" is the only thing Sterling's lawyers could say.

"And what's that relevant to? What question is the jury going to be asked at the end of the trial on which that information is relevant. Is Sterling suing the NBA owners for being racist, or for forcing him out of the NBA? Being a racist while forcing him out of the NBA doesn't show that action was wrongful, it just shows that action was taken by someone who also happens to be a racist. But racists still get due process, including the requirement that before someone can sue them successfully, that someone must prove some sort of actionable legal claim."

Yes, some maverick or incompetent trial judge might overrule the NBA owners' objections and compel discovery on whether other owners are racist. But that would be a fluke, an erroneous result, and one that an appellate court might well interfere with (via mandamus) even before the entry of a final judgment or other appealable ruling.

Beldar said...

Put another way: That the other NBA owners may be hypocrites is a fact that's relevant to the fight for public opinion.

It's not relevant to Sterling's potential legal claims in a court of law. His contractual and other relationships with his fellow owners aren't keyed to being "sincere."

jaed said...

Isn't inconsistency in enforcing the contract terms problematic in a civil case, though? With a peer organization like the NBA?

If others have made similar (or much worse) comments, then the moral turpitude provision (or whatever provision they use) is being enforced preferentially and in bad faith.

Kirby Olson said...

Kevin Johnson was a point guard - very hot in about 1995. He is the mayor of Sacramento. Many say he is the players' biggest advocate for getting rid of Sterling. But news is coming out that Kevin Johnson (no apparent relation to Magic), is the Jerry Sandusky of the NBA. He ran a big operation for deprived girls and molested a large number of them but paid them off. Some tried to get traction in the press but Johnson is a Democrat, and the press squelched the stories. This story hasn't yet begun to fight. It's just now throwing out some of its stranger twists and shouts. Torquemada lives on. May everyone suffer.

http://deadspin.com/the-man-who-help...ass-1576960521

Beldar said...

jead asked (): "Isn't inconsistency in enforcing the contract terms problematic in a civil case, though? With a peer organization like the NBA?"

No, not particularly. The law doesn't forbid us from being inconsistent as a general matter. The law doesn't require that private parties, in their dealings with one another, be rational and noble and consistent.

Good thing, that, actually.

jaed said...

Rational and noble is probably too much to ask for, but if it's a mutual agreement - "we all agree that doing thing X will deprive us of certain rights under this contract" - and it turns out that this is enforced differentially among the owners, isn't that a legal problem?

I'm having trouble understanding how some people can (arguably) violate a contract, while other parties to the same contract can commit the same act and it's not deemed a violation.

(Understand me, I'm wondering about the legal situation, not the moral one. Hypocrisy isn't a legal problem, but it seems like differential or bad-faith enforcement/non-enforcement of a contract provision would be.)