Eric Macramalla on NBA’s Legal Stand, and a Player’s Reaction to Donald Sterling
Eric Macramalla, legal analyst at the Sport Network (TSN), joined Jeff Thurn on Monday’s edition of Overtime on ESPN 99.1.
Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling made racist remarks to his girlfriend saying not to bring ‘black’ people to his games, as reported by TMZ. (Click on the link to hear the audio between Sterling and his girlfriend).
Macramalla discusses if there is anything the NBA can do to force Sterling to sell the Clippers?
“I think that’s going to be really tough. I don’t see that being in the cards. I don’t think the NBA can force Sterling to sell the Clippers. If ever the NBA tried to do that, Jeff, they would be hit with a massive lawsuit from Sterling. You know the NBA constitution provides that the NBA can takeover the team, but only when it is financial stress and they won’t be permitted to take over a team lawfully over racial slurs. So, that is not going to be in the cards. I think what is likely to happen here is a substantial suspension. Something like a year or more and a substantial fine between one and five million. So, a year suspension plus a five million dollar fine to me kind of seems like the more likely scenario. You know, and there’s a precedent for that. Baseball has got there own constitution and that constitution gives the commissioner really wide powers, Jeff. Wider powers than any commissioner in the four major sports have. It provides the commissioner act, in quote, in the best interest in baseball, and even under in those circumstances, they could do not more than suspend Marge Schott of the Cincinnati Reds for a year after she favorable comments about Adolf Hitler and engaged in some racial slurs referring to Eric Davis and Dave Parker as a million dollar n-bomb, and that got her a one-year suspension in 1992. In 1996, she got two more years for making more of those type of comments. So, bottom line is you can’t force the sale here.”
Major League Baseball has an antitrust law, whereas the NBA does not.
Thurn asks Macramalla if it would be a statement by the players boycotting a game, or the fans not showing up in an effort to push Sterling out, or what could be the most radical change that could happen?
“Apart from the NBA, can players and fans do things to force Sterling out? Look, I’m not being rude. We are talking about the L.A. Clippers. There’s a history here of not winning and Sterling is 81 years old with 1.9 billion dollars. It seems based on the history of the Clippers and history of Sterling engaged in this kind of stuff before seems unlikely that he would be moved by outside pressure of fans and players, but you know what is interesting here, is you have, look, 76.3 percent of the NBA is population is African-American, 80.1 or so are colored. That’s a substantial portion of the NBA population and same goes for the Clippers. You have to wonder after the season’s over, are some players going to say, my employer has a disdain for me based upon the color of my skin? I would like to go. The Clippers have a couple of very good players in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. So, that to me is the interesting thing to see. How do the players react when the playoffs are done?”
To hear more of Macramalla’s interview with Thurn, listen below:
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Catch Thurn weekday’s on ESPN 99.1 in Sioux Falls from 3 to 6 p.m.