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Monday, May 19, 2014

The case against Sterling -- Update

The NBA has released a summary of the charges against Sterling. You can read it here, and here is the AP story about it.

The NBA filed its case against Donald Sterling on Monday, initiating a process that could have him stripped of the Los Angeles Clippers by June 3 -- two days before the start of the NBA finals. Under the league's constitution, Sterling will have a chance to respond and the right to a hearing, but Commissioner Adam Silver appears to have the votes to oust him.

Here is Sports Law Blog founder Michael McCann's take on how the process will go forward.

Although the charging documents have not been made public yet, the league said in its announcement that Sterling's racist comments have exposed the league to publicity "has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams." The case against him is expected to include statements from sponsors regarding the diminished value of a connection with the Clippers. Also, because the league has an obligation under the CBA to maximize revenue, the NBA is expected to argue that Sterling's comments left the league vulnerable to a complaint from the players.

Here's what the NBA said in its press release: 

Mr. Sterling’s actions and positions significantly undermine the NBA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; damage the NBA’s relationship with its fans; harm NBA owners, players and Clippers team personnel; and impair the NBA’s relationship with marketing and merchandising partners, as well as with government and community leaders. 

Sterling has until May 27 to respond. At the June 3 hearing, he will have the right to counsel but the league constitution specifically notes that strict rules of evidence will not apply. (Sterling agreed to that when he became a member of the league. It also notes that each owner "waives any and all recourse to any court of law to review any such decision" to terminate his ownership.)


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