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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday announced a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine for L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist remarks about minorities. Yet despite the ban, Sterling will retain ownership of his team — at least for the time being.
So what gives? How can Sterling be banned from having anything to do with the Clips while still controlling — and reaping money from — them?
It's not entirely clear because the NBA's constitution is confidential. But leaked portions of the bylaws suggest it's a matter of the commissioner having the power to unilaterally ban owners, but needing the consent of the other owners before usurping a team, too.
Article 35 — the text of which Deadspin helpfully posted here — stipulates that the commissioner can indefinitely suspend anyone who has "made or caused to be made any statement having... an effect prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of basketball or of the Association." Though the language of that particular subsection refers to players, it's speculated it can be applied to owners and others involved in the NBA as well.
Elsewhere, the constitution reportedly stipulates that owners may force the league to sell a team against another owner's will with a three-fourths vote. Silver alluded to that Tuesday, saying he would ask the NBA's Board of Governors to hold such a vote soon.
Sterling has gone to court with the league before, and it's likely he would pursue litigation if the other owners, as expected, vote to give him the boot. So for the time being, Sterling can't associate with the Clippers in any way, though he still technically owns them.