Given the litigious background of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the National Basketball Association is going to need an influential but diplomatic outsider to intervene if the league is to permanently rid itself of the allegedly racist owner, one insider says.
On Saturday, TMZ released an audio recording in which Sterling allegedly urged his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to bring black friends to "my games."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
and the league are investigating the tape and weighing sanctions that many say should include Sterling's removal as owner.
Miami Heat star LeBron James, arguably the NBA's biggest star, has said, "There is no place for Donald Sterling in our league."
Joe Casale, a lawyer, sports medicine consultant and former player agent, told Ed Berliner and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that Silver is going to be somewhat handcuffed in the penalties he might be able to levy.
"Adam Silver is in a situation right now where under the league bylaws he could suspend [Sterling] indefinitely, he can fine him for up to $1 million for conduct detrimental to the league, but he can't take the franchise from him," Casale said Monday. "That's not going to happen."
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The action Casale said he would like to see Silver take immediately is to call in the help of a "sports diplomat" to try to usher Sterling out of professional basketball.
"They're going to have to bring in people whose backgrounds are more diplomatic in nature than litigious, because if you're going to go after a guy who is legendary litigious through litigation, that's exactly what he wants," Casale said Monday.
"You're seeing some fallout now, with sponsors beginning to pull away from the Los Angeles Clippers. That may signal an opportunity for people to go in and suggest to him it's time to sell."
When asked to identify a candidate for that task, Casale lamented the fact that the person most equipped to persuade Sterling into selling the team, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, died last year.
"They need to get someone like a Jerry Buss, who is very close to Donald Sterling," Casale said. " Try to get someone that Sterling likes and respects, which is a small circle, and someone that has influence with the league, someone who is not confrontational."
Should the league find someone capable of swaying Sterling, Casale said, the one person he would never sell the team to is Hall of Fame Lakers guard Magic Johnson
. On Monday it was reported that Johnson and his ownership group would be interested in the Clippers if Sterling were forced to sell.
It was a photo Stiviano posted to Instagram of herself with Johnson at a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game that infuriated Sterling and prompted his alleged racist tirade.
"One of the problems and one of the mistakes that came out this morning that will allow Sterling to dig his heels in was this rumor that the league has reached out to Magic Johnson about possibly buying the Clippers," Casale said.
"Magic smartly shut that down because there is no way in the world that Donald Sterling is going to sell the team to Magic Johnson, there is no way in the world Donald Sterling wants anything to do with Magic Johnson, because in Donald Sterling's mind, I'm sure he feels this is all Magic's fault."
Casale said the best thing Silver could do would be to suspend Sterling indefinitely.
"I will say one thing about guys like Sterling, they love being owners," Casale said. "They love sitting courtside, that means a lot. They like having the 'goomah' on one side and the wife on the other. They love that. That means more to them than the money."
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