Will The Clippers Receive the First NBA “Death Penalty”?
Donald Sterling’s comments have caused outrage across the NBA. The discontent from players, fans, and fellow owners have resonated throughout social media. There’s no hiding from what must be done at this point. Sterling must be removed as owner.
Now the process of removing Sterling as owner is what will qualify this situation as the ‘Death Penalty.’ We’ve seen the death penalty in college football but rarely has anyone seen a situation in professional sports that may call for such drastic measures. Unlike the NCAA version of the ‘Death Penalty’ this will not be imposed by a governing party, it’ll be the result of the circumstances surrounding Sterling’s removal.
I highly doubt that Sterling will just relinquish ownership of the Clippers franchise so the NBA will have to find a way to force his hand. It’d be up to the NBAPA and the NBA to prove that Sterling caused an inhospitable work environment, thus allowing his players to be released from their contracts and leaving the Clippers with no roster. As we’ve seen through player statements it’d be nearly impossible to recruit 12 new players to play under a Sterling owned team. Thus, forcing Sterling to sell the franchise.
The sale of a NBA franchise isn’t a quick process, ask the Sacramento Kings. The NBA would have to oversee the proposed offers to make sure Sterling wasn’t just passing it to a friend of his or business associate. The NBA will have to review the offers and basically select the best fit for the franchise.
I’m sure the Clippers sharing their facilities with the Lakers will lengthen the process as the Lakers will have to negotiate with the new owners as well. The NBA offseason currently begins at the end of June and last until the preseason in late October. That’s only four months time to try to sell the franchise.
That’d mean that the NBA would have to make the extremely tough decision of the Clippers team forfeiting the 2014-2015 season. By forfeiting the season the NBA will have 14 months to establish a new regime in LA (one of their most important markets) and make sure that the Clippers franchise moves on from their blatantly racist ownership.
The players and coaches wouldn’t just be hung out to dry though. This is where commissioner Adam Silver will be able to make his first true mark on the league. He’ll have to take responsibility for this situation as the representative for the league owners and allow players to do what is best for themselves without penalty. By that I mean players and coaches should be allowed to immediately hit free agency and find a new team for the 2014-2015 season.
The players should be able to go to whatever team has a roster spot available for them and not count on that team’s cap for the season. The players would then collect their agreed upon 2014-2015 salary from Sterling, even though he no longer owns the franchise. This would mean that Chris Paul would be free to take his talents to South Beach or join Melo’s rebuilding movement in New York.
Imagine if the trio of Paul, Griffin, and Jordan decided to stay in LA and join Kobe’s Lakers for a one year title run? Oh the possibilities.
Sure owners will complain about the prospects of player being “ghost players” for a season and the unfairness it’d create around the league but they’ll just have to deal with the punishment. It was brought on by one of their members, their peer. If a star point guard is suspended does it not effect the other 11 players on that bench? It’s the same principal. Sterling’s comments would negatively affect the rest of his “team” (NBA owners).
If Sterling is to be removed I’d hope that it wouldn’t be done swiftly and without fear of the repercussions that it’ll have on the league and it’s other owners.
Honestly, the ruling of a ‘Death Penalty’ for the Los Angeles Clippers won’t be done by the commissioner or the owners, it will be forced by the players and the fans. It all begins with them; and if they fight hard enough they’ll put up an unprecedented stand against racism in sports and society.