On the night of a fascinating Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, much of the NBA’s twitterverse was wrapped up in talking about the latest developments in the “As the Sterlings Turn” soap opera.
It has been that way all playoffs — Donald and Shelly Sterling with their personal and public drama casting a cold, dark shadow over one of the best playoffs in memory.
The latest twist in the saga is that Shelly Sterling had her husband and long-time Clippers primary owner Donald Sterling declared mentally incapacitated, which under the terms of the trust the couple owns the Clippers through makes her the lone trustee. In that capacity she has reached a deal to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, as confirmed by NBC. The deal has been forwarded on to the league for approval, which may postpone the planned vote by the owners to oust Sterling as an owner.
You’d be foolish to think Donald Sterling is not going to fight all of it — the declaration of incapacity and the sale of his team — dragging this sordid affair out.
That’s likely his next step, Donald Sterling trying to get an injunction to stop the sale of the team while he fights the incapacitated ruling pushed by his wife. If Donald wins that then he will take to the courts to fight the league on the forced sale of the Clippers. Ultimately Sterling will lose — either his wife will win and sell the team, or the NBA will vote to revoke his franchise and when Sterling sues to block that he will find out he has no legal legs to stand on (he has signed multiple documents over the years giving the NBA owners the right to do what they are doing).
The question is not how it ends, but how ugly and long the road is to get there.
What Steve Ballmer and his agreement to buy the team brings hope.
Hope that this might all come to an end quickly and cleanly and we can all move on.
Hope for Clippers fans that suffered through three decades of Sterling being the worst owner in professional sports, barely spending on his team. Even as things had turned in recent years his past, his erratic behavior was like the Sword of Damocles hanging over the franchise and the good people who worked for the Clippers. Those people lived with never knowing when the owners odd, racist behaviors might strike.
Hope for the Clippers players that a new owner would build upon the changes the franchise has seen in recent years (trading for Chris Paul, spending on Doc Rivers). This was one of the four best teams in the NBA this season, a team on the cusp of winning it all, the right ownership could sustain and build that.
Hope for the league that its worst and most embarrassing owner would be replaced by a guy with the potential (and pocketbook) to be a great owner. At least Pete Carroll thinks so.
Yes, it is disgusting that a bigot like Donald Sterling is about to make a healthy $1.87 billion profit off this sale (he bought the team for just $13 million 33 years ago). Our sense of justice doesn’t like to see the immoral rewarded, even through we know it happens all the time all over the world (and has throughout history).
But this sale is finally hope for all NBA fans that this ugly saga is behind us and we can start talking just about basketball again.
We’d all like to move on.