Since alleged racist comments of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling hit the Internet, there’s been a clamoring for Sterling to be suspended, fined and even booted from the NBA’s ownership group. But how much action can the NBA take against Sterling if the league’s investigation reveals he made those racist remarks?
ESPN asked its legal guru Lester Munson what action the NBA could take in this Q&A column on Monday.
For instance, could Sterling be ousted by his peers as an owner? Munson’s answer:
Yes. Under the terms of Paragraph 13 of the constitution, the owners can terminate another owner’s franchise with a vote of three-fourths of the NBA Board of Governors, which is composed of all 30 owners. The power to terminate is limited to things like gambling and fraud in the application for ownership, but it also includes a provision for termination when an owner “fails to fulfill” a “contractual obligation” in “such a way as to affect the [NBA] or its members adversely.” Silver and the owners could assert that Sterling’s statements violated the constitution’s requirements to conduct business on a “reasonable” and “ethical” level.
In the Q&A, Munson also says that various punishments can be levied by commissioner Adam Silver, from an indefinite suspension, forfeiture of draft picks and fines ranging of up to $2.5 million dollars, to a lifetime suspension with fines.
The NBA is set to make an announcement on the Donald Sterling situation at a 1 p.m. CST press conference from New York.