What exactly did Donald Sterling do?
We know he said some ridiculous things about blacks on recorded audio. He also said heinous things about African-Americans in a CNN interview.
What other wrongdoings is the NBA alleging?
The NBA provided a summary of the charges:
Among other things, Mr. Sterling disparaged African-Americans and “minorities”; directed a female acquaintance not to associate publicly with African-Americans or to bring African-Americans to Clippers games; and criticized African-Americans for not supporting their communities.
Mr. Sterling engaged in other misconduct as well, including issuing a false and misleading press statement about this matter.
James Rainey and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times obtained the NBA’s full 30-page list of charges. Among the details:
Sterling asked Stiviano to tell the NBA that she lied in her previous meeting with the league. The billionaire owner wanted her to tell the league investigators that the voice on the recording was not his and that she had altered the recording, Stiviano told the investigators. Sterling also allegedly tried to bring a quiet close to his wife’s lawsuit against Stiviano, which sought to recover some of her husband’s money used to buy Stiviano a home and several luxury cars.
Stiviano said Donald Sterling requested that she pay Shelly Sterling to settle the lawsuit, filed in 2013, and that he would return the money to Stiviano through “back channels.”
That’s a big one. If Sterling urged Stiviano to lie to NBA investigators, the league can use that ethical breach in its case against the Clippers owner.
As for Sterling trying to persuade Stiviano to settle the lawsuit, that doesn’t belong in the NBA’s purview – but it really is the heart of the matter. Sterling should have paid off Stiviano long ago, and he would have avoided all this.
It also says there is ample evidence that Sterling and his wife are not estranged, as has been suggested.
Shelly and Donald Sterling were videoed together shortly after TMZ leaked the audio, but she has since said that was only at the request of Clippers president Andy Roeser, who persuaded her that Donald needed her. That’s plausible. The NBA needs more evidence Shelly and Donald are still together than just their brief public appearance together and their shared history of alleged racism, but the league might have that.
Team President Roeser received a copy of the recording on April 9 from another employee of the team, who had gotten it from Stiviano, the charges allege. That was more than two weeks before the April 25 posting of the recording by the website TMZ.
After Roeser told Sterling about the recording, Roeser, on Sterling’s orders, told the unnamed employee to delete it from a phone, along with all related text messages, the NBA charges say.
I’m not sure that will stick as a wrongdoing. What’s wrong with Sterling deleting a recording of two people in a then-private conversation? At that point, he had no reason to believe the NBA was investigating it.
Roeser issued that statement for the team “falsely questioning the legitimacy and authenticity of the recording,” the NBA alleged.
I’m not sure how you can “falsely question.” Maybe the tape’s authenticity was false, but that doesn’t make question the authenticity false. Roeser – no matter what he suspected or should have suspected – wasn’t in position to know with absolute certainty the tape hadn’t been doctored.
Is that a technical out? Absolutely, but this is all about technicalities.
The NBA has a strong case against Sterling. It appears the league is also including some of its less-credible complaints, too, which is fine.
Even if the other owners don’t buy everything in this document, enough evidence remains to vote out Sterling.