Is Donald Sterling Selling The Clippers for $2 Billion Really What Everyone Wanted?

And so it is all but official, Donald Sterling appears prepared to sign off on the sale of the L.A. Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.  After his private racist comments about Magic Johnson and other African Americans were made public the court/mob of public opinion demanded that Sterling be banned from the NBA and be forced to sell the team.  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly obliged and the NBA and Sterling began making preparation for a prolonged legal battle over whether the league could force Sterling to sell the team.  Silver was immediately labeled a hero (since when does riding the wave of public opinion make you a hero?) and NBA players demanded that Sterling be immediately removed as the owner before the start of next season and passively threatened to sit out the start of the season until his removal was final.  Demanding the removal of Sterling quickly became a sign that you were “evolved” and “progressive” and “in-tune with the war against racism.”  But it looks like the swift action of the NBA, driven by the mob of popular opinion is going to have some unintended consequences.

In the midst of the feigned self-righteous mob anger, the likes of Oprah, Magic Johnson and other billionaires with too much bloody money mounted their white horses to ride in as the self-proclaimed savior of the franchise and began to make offers to buy the Clippers.  The over-zealousness to be the guy/or woman to save the Clippers from racist ownership drove the purchase price so high that the litigious Sterling saw enough dollar signs to give up the legal battle and take the money and walk.  Now, Sterling and his family stand ready to take home the measly post-capital gains tax leftovers of a $2 billion dollar sale.  Sterling purchased the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million.  A $2 billion sale 33 years later is a solid return on investment to say the least.  What everyone who demanded that Sterling be forced to sale the Clippers failed to consider is that there was and is no mechanism to ensure that Sterling does not receive the money from the sale.  Has Sterling really been punished for his “crime”?  Sure, he has to sell the Clippers, but how is that a punishment when he gets billions of dollars in return?  Owning a professional sports franchise normally is not a money maker until you sell the team.  Sterling would have stood to make a lot less money if he had continued owning the team until his death.  Now he gets one last big cash-in and gets the thrill of receiving over a billion dollars.  Is this what everyone really wanted?  Or is this just another example of the court of public opinion and mob rule producing yet another undesirable result?  I believe it is the latter.

Posted by Hatch

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