Owners have 'authority' as process moves forward

Owners have 'authority' as process moves forward
April 29, 2014, 10:00 pm
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BOSTON — The decision by NBA commissioner Adam Silver was quick and swift. 

Just days after the racist comments by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling went public courtesy of TMZ, Silver announced that Sterling was banned for life from the NBA and the Clippers in addition to being hit with a $2.5 million fine.

The next step for the league is to take ownership away from Sterling which is expected to be a long, drawn-out process.

"The owners have the authority subject to three-quarters vote of the ownership group, of the partners, to remove him as an owner," Silver said.

Silver was referring to Article 13 of the "Constitution and By-Laws of the NBA" which, under the heading, 'Termination of ownership or membership," states that an owner "may be terminated by a vote of three fourths (3/4) of the Board of Governors ..."

"We will most likely use a standing committee of the NBA," Silver said. "The equivalent of our executive committee is our advisory finance committee. I've had several discussions with (Minnesota Timberwolves majority owner) Glen Taylor, who is our chairman of the board and also the leader of the advisory finance committee, and we will begin the process immediately."

While Silver did not indicate specifically which provision within the NBA's Constitution served as the basis for his punishment for Sterling, it appears Article 35A, 'Misconduct of Persons Other than Players,' has language in it that speaks to this matter.

In Article 35A (d), it states that the Commissioner has the power to suspend or fine a non-player (in this case, an owner) "who, in his opinion, shall have been guilty of conduct prejudicial or detrimental to the Association."

The negative attention Sterling's racist rant has received coupled with several sponsors breaking off ties with the Clippers in droves, is indeed detrimental to the NBA.

Even if Sterling were willing to go along with an immediate sale, there's still a process by which the league must follow.

According to the NBA Constitution, the charges against Sterling must be made in writing and served to him no later than three business days after they are filed. 

Sterling then has five business days to answer the charges, according to the Constitution. 

Once Sterling responds, the Constitution states that Silver must then forward the charges and Sterling's answers to the Board of Governors and shall call a meeting of the Governors to be held no more than 10 days after the charges and Sterling's answers were filed.

If Sterling does not respond to the charges within five business days, according to the Constitution it shall "be deemed an admission by said member or owner (Sterling) of the total validity of the charges as presented."

And that's not even factoring in the process in finding a new owner willing to pay what some believe may be as much as $1 billion for the franchise.

In other words, getting this team out of Sterling's control is going to be very time-consuming.

But one thing that's clearly in Silver's favor, is the overwhelming support by all 30 teams - including the Clippers who were among the masses to release statements voicing their support for Silver following his announcement. 

“We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today," read a statement from the Clippers. "Now the healing process begins."