The Sterling SILVER Example

The Sterling SILVER Example

Sport has the power of uncertainty, the unexpected, the surprise. On Tuesday, the sports world enjoyed one of the biggest upsets in history. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life. For life! Sure he is over 80 years old now, but he has presided over the Clippers for 30 mostly futile years with a despicable reputation for racism. Beyond sports management malpractice, he is known for a hanging on to a moral code stuck in a thankfully bygone era.

Despite the tide of sentiment pushing to this conclusion, it is still an upset. It is an upset against the rich sports team owner. It is an upset over the feeling of entitlement that comes with being a rich sports team owner. This result was not inevitable. The Commissioner had to consider the views of his constituents and overcome their concerns about the consequences of revoking a franchise. Sterling’s response to the ban and possible forced sale are unknown, but he is known to be very litigious. And while his ownership of the Clippers is not over yet, he does not have any friends amongst his fellow NBA members. This is a rare condition. He has no friends that count.

This will not result in an antitrust case against the NBA. This will be a lack of trust case against Donald Sterling. His moral convictions differ from his fellow owners. His lack of friendships with fellow owners has led to a lack of trust that he is a suitable NBA peer. This may not be unprecedented in sports ownership history, but it is unexpected. Expulsion is usually reserved for cheats, liars, and criminals. Sterling is being expelled because nobody likes him or what he believes. This is an upset. A wonderfully happy upset.


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JB Hacking

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