Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Shelly Sterling: FAR From Innocent

According to a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Shelly Sterling believes she does not carry the baggage her banned-for-life racist cheating horndog of an estranged husband does and has a right to retain her share of the Los Angeles Clippers. Well, think again.

Let’s review and analyze some facts, shall we?

  •  Ms. Sterling posed as a government employee to document the ethnicity of tenants in her husband’s buildings. This is not conjecture; she was captured on videotape doing so.
  • She had the poor taste to insist upon appearing at games during the Clippers’ opening round series against the Golden State Warriors, knowing full well that her attendance would be a distraction. Coach Doc Rivers gave his “blessing” for Ms. Sterling to attend, but still, Ms. Sterling lacked the graciousness or self-awareness to decline.
  • Section 14 of the NBA’s Constitution and Bylaws allows for the removal of a majority owner of an NBA franchise and all other owners of said franchise by a ¾ vote of the Governors (other owners) of the NBA’s franchises. Sorry, Shelly, your lawsuit will pile up some billable hours, but will ultimately be fruitless. Please save yourself some legal fees, and spare the rest of us the agony of seeing this sordid conflict dragged out unnecessarily.
  • The players, coaches, staff (including the janitorial staff, I have to believe) don’t want to have anything to do with you or any other Sterling—or Tokowitz, or Stein—family members. NBA Megastar LeBron James said as much after Game 3 in Brooklyn. Please take your massive capital gain and exit stage left. Quickly and quietly, if you wouldn’t mind.

It’s the fourth point above that really matters most, right? Most people with a sense of propriety would know to move on when it is so clear that they should. I can’t imagine a clearer message than an internationally viewed press conference in which the brand new NBA Commissioner banned the league’s longest-tenured owner for life. The words were crystal clear; the message was clearer still. Get lost. Forever. Shelly Sterling is now arguing that that message doesn’t extend to her. On that point, she could not be more mistaken.

As detailed previously, Ms. Sterling was clearly a co-conspirator in her husband’s discriminatory housing practices, which netted his companies the two largest judgments since the passing of the Fair Housing Law in 1968. Yes, Adam Silver maintained in his press conference that Mr. Sterling’s lifetime ban was “only” for his recently recorded statements. This cannot be true, although I understand the legal reasons for the Commissioner to need to say so. As Dan LeBatard said on his ESPN show “Highly Questionable”, Mr. Sterling received his lifetime ban as a sort of “lifetime achievement award for racism.” There is no way that Shelly Sterling can escape her association with his long-running string of discriminatory misdeeds.

It is not lost on many that Shelly Sterling was seen leaving dinner at a restaurant with her estranged husband on the very evening of his banishment. It is a pity that Ms. Stiviano wasn’t available to record that conversation. Are we to believe that they were discussing a potential reconciliation? Hardly. Were they synchronizing calendars to attend events with family members? Can’t see that either. Then, what? I can’t claim that the Sterling marriage was never more than a sham, but it has obviously been a business partnership far more than it has been an emotional coupling for many years at this point. That dinner cannot be viewed as anything other than a strategy session between business partners. No one in the Commissioner’s office will ever believe that Ms. Sterling’s legal maneuvering is anything but an attempt to prolong the family’s grip on the less glamorous of Los Angeles’ two NBA franchises. Neither do I. Neither should you. Shelly Sterling must not remain as an owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.


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