To hear the much-respected deputy NBA Players Association chief Roger Mason Jr. tell it, all six of the teams scheduled to play on Tuesday night would have boycotted games had the NBPA decided that NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s punishment for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling not been heavy enough. The Warriors even revealed plans to walk out to center court before their Game 5 matchup with Sterling’s Clippers, and walk off the court just as the ball was thrown up at the center court just 23 feet from where Sterling often splayed his legs while perched in his sideline seat.
Sterling is banned, for life, from sitting in that or any other NBA seat, thanks to Silver’s Tuesday afternoon decision. His banishment, coupled with the upcoming NBA owners vote pitched in order to force Sterling to sell his team, was credited as sufficient enough, and the league – however shaken – has continued apace in the days since.
Of course, it’s still going to take quite a bit of effort to get Sterling to sell, and not because there aren’t bidders on the ready with the possible billion or so dollars it will get him to walk away from his skeevy sense of celebrity. The presumed fight between Sterling and the NBA could go on for years, and though the players are currently satiated with Silver’s initial charge, one NBA player thinks things need to be tightly wrapped up by the time the 2014-15 season starts this fall.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jarrett Jack wants a league-wide player boycott starting now, and if the Clippers haven’t changed hands by October. In speaking with 95.7 The Game on Thursday, Jack revealed as much:
"The thing I would propose is that nobody plays another game for the Clippers as long as that man is in control period point blank. And we don't play another game until that man is removed. It's not a Clipper issue, it's a league issue and we should all take a stance on it."
This … this is going to be tough.
It’s admirable that Jack would want to walk away from his personal $6.3 million deal for 2014-15 in order to stage protest, and that he hopes his fellow NBA cohorts would do the same, but it’s important that the players and fans of the league understand that the eventual pitched battle between the pathetic current Clippers owner and the league could drag on for years, and it wouldn’t be because the NBA isn’t trying its damndest to move the man out of here.
Not only will Sterling’s sense of self-worth and pride take a hit if he’s no longer awarded the cachet of “Los Angeles Clippers owner” at his various steakhouses and back rub rooms, he’s also due a massive tax hit even if he does sell the team for well over a billion dollars.
It’s been well-documented that Sterling bought the Clippers for only $12.5 million some three decades ago, and he would be on the hook for one-third of the difference between that figure and for whatever he sells the franchise for. Yes, he’d still be raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, but a tax bill of well over $300 million (should the team go for over a billion, which is likely) is enough to put even a bewildered and clueless sort like Sterling out.
Writing for USA Today’s Fields of Green site, Steve Henson offered another, um, way around things:
The last scenario is Sterling stalling a sale until he dies. His family would inherit the team at its value at time of death, with zero tax consequences except for estate taxes. If the family sold the team, it would pay capital gains only on the difference of the “stepped-up value” and the sale price. So if the value is determined to be $1 billion at Sterling’s death, and the team is sold for, say, $1.2 billion, the tax bill would be 33 percent of only $200 million.
Then there’s the personal side of things.
Sterling will want to fight. It’s the only way he can stay relevant, it’s the only way he can continue to lie to himself about not being an awful, duplicitous, miscreant, and it’s the only way to keep his competitive juices flowing now that he knows that the players on the team he currently owns want nothing to do with him.
As the Daily News reported Wednesday, if Sterling sues, he would likely base his case on language in the NBA constitution that deals with conduct that constitutes “willful acts,” a term that can be difficult to interpret and enforce. Generally those acts include criminal behavior, financial instability or gambling or fixing games.
“He’ll sue and it’ll take years to settle,” said the source close to Sterling.
Years. There will always be a lawyer to take your case, no matter how crass or sniveling.
That’s something all of us are going to have to get used to. Sterling works in a private league, one that is well within its rights to vote to toss him out on his ear if he gets in the way of making that private league money, something Donald Sterling is getting in the way of right now. That’s what the “whatever happened to free speech?”-morons never seem to understand.
Donald Sterling is entitled to free speech, and he’s also earned the means to employ attorneys. This is why Jarrett Jack should plan on a long, long boycott if he decides to follow through on his initial take.
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