In what was by far the most dramatic game of the entire second round of the NBA playoffs, the L.A. Clippers knocked off the Oklahoma City yesterday afternoon 101-99, tying that series at 2-2. If you like basketball, this series has it all, with four of the most exciting players in the game in the Thunder's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, along with the Clippers' Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, whose intensity is just so enjoyable to watch, making him in my eyes the most compelling player in the league to watch (now that my former bestie, Steve Nash, has, like all of us, succumbed to the vagaries of aging, what with his various ailments over the past few years taking their toll).
But the serious drama is taking place off the court with the Clippers, as their beleaguered owner, Don Sterling, is apparently going to fight to keep his team. In comments that will be broadcast tonight on CNN's Anderson Cooper's 360, the 80-year-old Sterling says he's sorry but feels he was "baited" to make racist comments that made national news two weeks ago, remarks that got him fined $2.5 million and banned for life in the NBA.
It's obvious that Commissioner Adam Silver would like for Sterling to go quietly into the good night, where undoubtedly he'd land just fine, since there is the possibility the team could be sold for as much as $1 billion — not a bad investment from the original $12. 5 million he paid to get into the league 30 years ago.
But if Sterling fights this, it could go on for a long time. As Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann writes, Sterling wasn't convicted of a crime and doesn't stand accused of failing to meet his financial commitments. He wasn't investigated by the police or the FBI, and he can't be sued for his remarks. McCann writes that if he wants to, Sterling could sue the league and depose the other owners , asking them if they are as guilty of "comparably objectionable behavior."
Couple that with the possibility that the Clippers, and perhaps many other players, may not want to play for Sterling (or his wife) ever again. Think that might be a problem for the league to handle? The fact is that Sterling's previous remarks (and behavior) have crossed a line that might keep him around in some parts of corporate America, but not in a professional sports league dominated by blacks who think the man is a bigot. It's completely understandable why the NBA just wants him to exit stage right quietly with his hundreds of millions of dollars. But Sterling as of yet hasn't gotten the message. McCann also writes that this litigation could go on for months if not longer, potentially sullying the game a lot more than Sterling has already.
In other news, CL spoke with Jessica Ehrlich the other day. You know, one of those Democrats who declined to run against David Jolly this fall? She has some words to say about the DCCC (which isn't exactly basking in glory as more revelations come out about its chosen candidate for CD13 this year)....David Jolly insists that another Benghazi revelation is relevant...and Marco Rubio says that too much has been made of man-made global warming...