This article was inspired by Donald, Shelley, and the Silly Rabbit. The life of Donald T. Sterling is full of irony. For about 30 years, he was one of the least popular people in Southern California. Then, with his Clippers enjoying their greatest season, his world has collapsed. Without that tape recording of his conversation, he might be possibly preparing to cakewalk through Los Angeles as a part of the Championship Parade.
The other NBA owners will be voting as to whether or not Sterling should be required to sell the Clippers. I think that there will be a unanimous vote that requires him to do so. I also think that Sterling will abide by the decision. My crystal ball does not have any idea of what Mrs. Sterling will do. She is an angry woman, and she has some scores that she wants to settle. She would also like to see V. Stiviano lose any claim for the condominium, and for the Bentleys. The other NBA owners see what is happening to Sterling, and they are terrified that the same thing might happen to them.
And while some of them may be sympathetic to Sterling, it is unlikely that any of them wants to go on the record supporting him. They realize that if somehow the news got out that they voted to support Sterling, their own franchises and business interests would be severely damaged. At this point, what they would like, is for Sterling to man up and to take whatever comes his way.
Basketball, volleyball, and soccer are sports that may be played without a lot of support and infrastructure. There are thousands of basketball players and thousands of available facilities where the games may be played. Sports like ice hockey and football require very large upfront capital investments. The owners of the NBA franchises understand that, and they have a constant concern that someone may start a new professional basketball league, or that the NBA players will simply move them out. Their NBA franchises may be worth billions, but only if they have star athletes playing for them. They understand that, and they hope that the players will never come to that realization.
The voting decision of each owner will be kept secret. However, if the voting decision is published and it is not unanimous, then at least some of the owners will want their fans and team should know how they voted. So, the likelihood is that the identity of any dissenting voters will be revealed to the public. After seeing what is happened to Sterling, none of them will likely risk that. They know that this incident has been a serious wake-up call for the players and things will never go completely back to the way they were.
They are also concerned that players like LeBron James may decide that he wants to become an owner, while he is still a player. The present owner-agreements prohibit that from happening, but it is an issue that has not yet been tested. Mr. James has a lot of leverage, and he knows how to use it. Kobe wants rings; LeBron wants money and power. All of the owners are nervous, since they realize that things could quickly go very, very wrong. The Sterling incident has made the players aware of the fact that they had more power than they realized. They will now begin to use it.