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Racism Award: $2B
May 30, 2014 6:28 AM   Subscribe

The Los Angeles Clippers will be sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. The sale -- forced by the NBA's kicking out current owner (and racist slumlord) Donald Sterling -- will be formally conducted by the Sterling Family Trust, which technically owns the team. The Trust is currently controlled solely by Sterling's wife Shelly, who had her husband declared mentally incompetent after a month of him declaring that he would never sell and that Magic Johnson is a bad role model.

The price annihilates the previous NBA franchise sale record of $550 million for the Milwaukee Bucks that was just approved by the NBA two weeks ago.
posted by Etrigan (180 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
In much, much worse news, I owe DynamiteToast a buck for being crazy-wrong on the sale price.
posted by Etrigan at 6:31 AM on May 30 [9 favorites]


Maybe I'm somewhat of a Pollyanna - but if Donald Sterling's wife has sole control of the trust, and the trust is the one selling it, then he doesn't benefit, right? And if that's the case, why is the $2bil sales price being called a "reward" for his racism?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:36 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


So Microsoft money now controls more of the NBA than it does the smart phone market.

It's a joke, I understand that Steve Balmer != Microsoft.
posted by COD at 6:36 AM on May 30 [29 favorites]


Haha I was about to go make a post in that thread to gloat, and forgot it would be closed. Crazy that this all happened in the span of a month.
posted by DynamiteToast at 6:37 AM on May 30


Wow, that's completely uncharacteristic of Steve Ballmer to grossly overpay for something that may prove to be monumentally unprofitable.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 6:37 AM on May 30 [112 favorites]


then he doesn't benefit, right?

He is still, surely, one of the trust's beneficiaries. In which case, alas, he is making out like a bandit.
posted by yoink at 6:38 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


The next CBA is going to be a shitstorm.
posted by mullacc at 6:39 AM on May 30 [8 favorites]


Maybe I'm somewhat of a Pollyanna - but if Donald Sterling's wife has sole control of the trust, and the trust is the one selling it, then he doesn't benefit, right?

Well, mostly he won't benefit because allegedly he's near death's door, but it's not like she's out the door and he's stuck with no profit from 33 years of being a shitty owner. The NBA had a chance to force a really low-ball deal, but they chickened out.
posted by Etrigan at 6:39 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Also of note, Ballmer tried to buy the Sacramento Kings when they were last available (a year or two ago?), and the Maloofs reportedly said they were impressed with his vision, but didn't sell because he wanted to relocate the team to Seattle. Seattle has been without a team since 2007 when they left to become the Oklahoma City Thunder.

I've heard that he has no intention of moving the Clippers to Seattle, but honestly if a city's going to lose a team to make it up to Seattle the city with two teams doesn't sound like the worst option.
posted by DynamiteToast at 6:41 AM on May 30 [18 favorites]


As of today his attorney is still saying that Sterling won't sell.

Anyway, I'm sure it's just a bump in the road and I'm glad the Seattle Clippers will be rid of that asshole.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:42 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Henceforth, the team's new name will be the Microsoft Clippys.

"It looks like you're trying to sink a three-pointer...."
posted by zarq at 6:45 AM on May 30 [225 favorites]


He's not being rewarded for his racism. He's being banished from the league. In the process, he must sell his asset, which is worth what the market will pay.

What the fuck did people expect was going to happen?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:46 AM on May 30 [46 favorites]


Maybe I'm somewhat of a Pollyanna - but if Donald Sterling's wife has sole control of the trust, and the trust is the one selling it, then he doesn't benefit, right? And if that's the case, why is the $2bil sales price being called a "reward" for his racism?

Well, it seems pretty clear that Shelly is not much better than her husband on that front. Google 'shelly sterling racist' and you'll have quite a few sources to choose from.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:47 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


What the fuck did people expect was going to happen?

I don't know if expect is the right word, but I did hope that he'd get hit by a truck?
posted by DynamiteToast at 6:48 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


this is a fascinating situation. i clicked on "declared mentally incompetent" because this is such a high bar for a court to jump over, and it turned out, the sterling family trust, which owns the team, has its own rules and its own experts for making this determination. i would be interested in seeing the sterling family trust documents to make my own evaluation, and i expect this to be challenged in court.

shelly sterling is not responsible for the reprehensible statements and acts of donald sterling. i was kinda hoping she would take over, and the nba would have a strong woman owner, and i am disappoint.

he may very well be mentally incompetent. look at what he did!

full disclosure: i am a charter lakers fan, since the team moved from minneapolis to LA, and i support anything that will bring chaos and doom to the crosstown rival, and seeing steve ballmer take over makes me grin.
posted by bruce at 6:49 AM on May 30


I don't know if expect is the right word, but I did hope that he'd get hit by a truck?

Those sorts of things tend to be outside the purview of the league office.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:49 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


The NBA had a chance to force a really low-ball deal, but they chickened out.

That's not in the interest of the other 29 owners Silver represents, as they want their own market values to stay high.

It's not really in the interest of the players either, as rising franchise values are an argument they can use in their favor at the next CBA negotiations. Heck, even the injustice of Sterling making out like a bandit is a point they can use.
posted by stevis23 at 6:49 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Seattle Clippers? No. The SEATTLE DEVELOPERS! Scariest mascot ever.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:50 AM on May 30 [25 favorites]


shelly sterling is not responsible for the reprehensible statements and acts of donald sterling. i was kinda hoping she would take over, and the nba would have a strong woman owner, and i am disappoint.

No but she is responsible for impersonating health officials to illegally gain access to her tenants' apartments.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:50 AM on May 30 [15 favorites]


I eagerly await the spectacle of a sweaty, amped-up Ballmer exhorting his troops by clapping his hands while chanting "Corner 3s! Corner 3s! Corner 3s! Corner 3s!"
posted by HillbillyInBC at 6:51 AM on May 30 [10 favorites]


Henceforth, the team's new name will be the Microsoft Clippys.

"It looks like you're trying to sink a three-pointer...."
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on May 30 [2 favorites +] [!]
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:52 AM on May 30 [35 favorites]


Does the price include the cost of bolting down all the chairs in the stadium?
posted by Poldo at 6:52 AM on May 30 [9 favorites]


Seattle Clippers? No. The SEATTLE DEVELOPERS! Scariest mascot ever.

@pourmecoffee: Steve Balmer #neverforget
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:53 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


bruce: " i was kinda hoping she would take over, and the nba would have a strong woman owner, and i am disappoint. "

Keeping that team in the family could be a bad idea. Donald Sterling could still maintain influence over the operation.
posted by zarq at 6:53 AM on May 30


Does the price include the cost of bolting down all the chairs in the stadium?

The chairs aren't going anywhere. Lakers fan will need them to watch all of the league's aging superstars injure themselves.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:54 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


If the NBA does add logos to Jerseys in the next few years a la soccer teams, the clippers are definitely getting the Xbox logo like the Sounders right?
posted by DynamiteToast at 6:54 AM on May 30


ursus_comiter: " "It looks like you're trying to sink a three-pointer....""

Ha! Yeah, I'm not the first, apparently.
posted by zarq at 6:55 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


If we got rid of every pro sports owner with a shitty background or a spouse with a shitty background... we just probably couldn't.

This was just about making a point to what is absolutely, without-a-doubt, un-fucking-acceptable than it was parting Sterling and family from the franchise.

And you know, what I'm okay with that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:56 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I don't know if expect is the right word, but I did hope that he'd get hit by a truck?

I think he already did -- a truck named V. Stiviano.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:01 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


zarq: don't care, still funny.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


The NBA had a chance to force a really low-ball deal, but they chickened out.

That's not in the interest of the other 29 owners Silver represents, as they want their own market values to stay high.


The NBA could have easily hung an asterisk on this sale price. No one would have seriously pointed to a $600M tag on the Clippers and said, "Well, that's what a team in L.A. is worth!" without someone saying, "No, that's what a scandal-plagued owner's team is worth in a fire sale. Let's ignore that."

Besides, the "market value" of these teams isn't really the point. Sterling didn't hold on to the team for 33 years because it was making him more money than any other investment could have -- he held on to it because having it made him an NBA Owner, a member of The Most Exclusive Club In The World.

It's not really in the interest of the players either, as rising franchise values are an argument they can use in their favor at the next CBA negotiations. Heck, even the injustice of Sterling making out like a bandit is a point they can use.

And that's how Silver could have justified forcing a lowball deal to the other owners: "We sell $600M to the players as the value of the team, and we tell your billionaire buddies that it doesn't really count. You win both ways!"
posted by Etrigan at 7:03 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Wait, wasn't being forced to sell the team the exact OPPOSITE of a "reward?"

I thought the entire issue- or at least the entire monetary issue- was that if Sterling owned the team and died, it went to his kids with no costs, but if he sold the team it meant taxes on the profit as well as estate taxes.

Doesn't the sale meant that Sterling now has a profit income of two billion dollars, of which he will owe income tax? That seems awesome for everyone except for the sad racist rich douchecanoe.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:04 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Seattle Clippers? No. The SEATTLE DEVELOPERS!
STOP: 0X000000A  (0x0802aa301,0X00000002,0x00000000,0x45FE3124)

CENTER_CANT_DRIBBLE**** Address fa3c371 has a loose ball - court.sys

CPUID: GenuineClipper 5.2.c iqrl1 SYSVER 0x00000001

STACK TRACE ABORTED

posted by eriko at 7:07 AM on May 30 [19 favorites]


And Seattle weeps, as our potential billionaire owner is now someone else's billionaire owner, as he's not going to try to move them to Seattle, which the league wouldn't go for...
posted by Windopaene at 7:10 AM on May 30


The NBA could have easily hung an asterisk on this sale price. No one would have seriously pointed to a $600M tag on the Clippers and said, "Well, that's what a team in L.A. is worth!"

Ends up in court instantly, and Sterling *wins big*.

The league constitution says the owners can force him to sell, but it *does not* say they can mandate the price. If they tried, it's a cast iron restraint-of-trade issue, and then Sterling owns *many* basketball teams.
posted by eriko at 7:14 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


I thought of the LA Clippy thing in the shower this morning and I'm displeased that zarq beat me to it.

Some other predictions:

1. When Chris Paul hits a long jumper, the announcer will shout "Nothing but .NET!"
2. They will run an ineffective 1-3-1 Zune.
3. Team colors will be changed to Azure.
4. Games at the Staples Center will be annoying because of the incessant "Bing" noise. Nobody knows why it's there or what its significance is.
5. Ballmer courtside will make Mark Cuban look like a Zen Master
6. Jumbotron will present unending player intros via giant Power Point slide decks
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:14 AM on May 30 [34 favorites]


Windopaene, I suspect that it's just a waiting game. If the sale goes through, Ballmer will be in a much stronger position and could probably make the move after a couple few years.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:16 AM on May 30


On the FPP thread when the Sterling thing blew up, there were a lot of people talking about how Shelly Sterling was to be pitied. This LA Times article about the Sterlings' litigiousness might make you feel differently. Also "coming out ahead" in the Sterling fiasco is Kevin Johnson, de facto spokesperson for current and former NBA players. So many rich personalities in this story. And I mean rich in all of the possible negative connotations.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:19 AM on May 30


The league constitution says the owners can force him to sell, but it *does not* say they can mandate the price.

No, but the other owners have to approve any sale (remember that they didn't approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Ballmer just last year). If they just keep saying, "Nope, not that one," eventually, someone takes the hint and low-balls it. As long as they're not dumb enough to send an email around saying, "So, we're agreed that X is the high number, right?!?", it happens.
posted by Etrigan at 7:20 AM on May 30


If nothing else, I'm excited to see Chris Paul and Blake Griffin run the blue screen & roll of death.
posted by Turkey Glue at 7:28 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


That price is absolutely bonkers, and is going to cause big problems for the NBA in future. For reference, here are all the sale prices from the last time NFL teams were on the market, and bear in mind that the NFL is much bigger in the U.S. right now (viewership-wise) than basketball.
posted by selfnoise at 7:28 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Players will be able to squirt the ball to each other.
posted by drezdn at 7:28 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


Bear in mind that the recent NFL draft, an event in which almost nothing happens, had higher ratings than the NBA playoffs showing at the same time. But sure, the Clippers are worth more than the Cowboys.
posted by selfnoise at 7:30 AM on May 30


Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards! Forwards!
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:31 AM on May 30 [8 favorites]


Etrigan, this is a different situation than the Sacramento sale. Sterling is being forced to sell. If the NBA obstructs him (or his proxy) from accepting the highest bid, he could sue under anti-trust laws.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:32 AM on May 30


I don't understand how he got to the 2 billion figure. Did he figure someone was going to bid 1.9 billion?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:34 AM on May 30


If the NBA obstructs him from being taking the highest bidder, he could sue under anti-trust laws.

Etrigan isn't suggesting that an obstruction would be legal. He's saying they should do it and just not get caught.
posted by mullacc at 7:34 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Did he figure someone was going to bid 1.9 billion?

Another group had a bid on the table for 1.8 billion.

Etrigan isn't suggesting that an obstruction would be legal. He's saying they should do it and just not get caught.

I'm sure that would slip under the radar of Sterling, his small army of lawyers, and the national sports media.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:36 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


zarq (6:53 AM), i respectfully disagree with you. donald sterling isn't going to be exercising influence over much of anything anymore. the first woman nba owner will have to come from somewhere. compare this to the first woman nfl owner...

georgia rosenbloom was married to carroll rosenbloom, owner of the los angeles rams. carroll rosenbloom, a strong swimmer, died mysteriously while swimming 100 yards off the florida coast. a great many native angelenos besides myself believe that he was whacked by the mafia. the widow georgia inherited the team, married dominic frontiere, moved to st. louis and created her own infamy in her own name as one of the worst owners in nfl history.

as a slightly moderate feminist, i am curious to see what a woman owner of a major american sports franchise could do, if her name wasn't georgia frontiere or marge schott. can you blame me? shelly sterling has the flag of sexism in her pocket, which she can raise against the league in 3..2..1. i suspect that she could be a better owner for her team than steve ballmer.
posted by bruce at 7:39 AM on May 30


Sterling is being forced to sell. If the NBA obstructs him from being taking the highest bidder, he could sue under anti-trust laws.

He's still saying he's going to sue despite his net worth going up by $1.5B since yesterday. No matter what happens, he's going to go down swinging, because it's not about the money for him.
posted by Etrigan at 7:39 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I'm as anti-racism as the next fellow, I'd like to think, but there's an element of the whole "RACISM REWARD" take on this that really weirds me out.

Racists are shitty, and racist beliefs are shitty, and being a racist is a shitty thing to be, but the shift from "this racist is racist, what a shithead" to "this racist is racist, and must therefore be stripped of his wealth and property" seems a bit... amped-up?

I understand "this is a horrible human being that does not live up to the standards set by the Association or team ownership, so we are kicking him out and forcing him to sell his team" part just fine.

But the spin that this is some sort of "reward" for the creepy old racist supposes that there is some sort of alternate option where his assets are seized from him without remuneration because he's a creepy old racist. "We can take your stuff if we don't like the way you think" is not a precedent I'm really keen on seeing have force of law.
posted by Shepherd at 7:39 AM on May 30 [28 favorites]


But the spin that this is some sort of "reward" for the creepy old racist supposes that there is some sort of alternate option where his assets are seized from him without remuneration because he's a creepy old racist.

There are slightly more than 1.4 billion differences between "assets are seized from him without remuneration" and "$2B purchase price of a team that was valued at $575M two months ago."
posted by Etrigan at 7:46 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


I really hope Blake Griffin and Chris Paul sit out spring training until they get a contract worth 4x their value!
posted by DigDoug at 7:46 AM on May 30


I don't know if expect is the right word, but I did hope that he'd get hit by a truck?

Those sorts of things tend to be outside the purview of the league office.


In that case, I guess we really have entered the post-Stern era.
posted by Copronymus at 7:50 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


As a Thunder fan, I wish very sincerely that Ballmer moves the team to Seattle. This would provide a way to put a period on the weird collective fantasy that basketball pundits have for thinking that Seattle is the only city ever with an orphaned fan base. For example in the playoffs this year the Thunder have played two teams that have relocated relatively recently and yet no one ever mentions that, it's just the Former Sonics aspect that get harped on.

Of course, this orgy of cash ought to reinforce to every fan that it's not a question of Deserving City Losing Team to Undeserving City, it's a question of Massive Money Does What It Wants. Hold your nose and go team.
posted by norm at 7:50 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


There are slightly more than 1.4 billion differences between "assets are seized from him without remuneration" and "$2B purchase price of a team that was valued at $575M two months ago."

"Valued at $575M"...by the sports columnists who didn't have access to the team's financial results?
posted by mullacc at 7:52 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


All this got started by a delusional 80 year old man telling his trophy girlfriend how to act to avoid compromising his standing, as if he had any standing.

I still can't believe all this media sensation over something this pathetic.
posted by ocschwar at 7:54 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


For reference, here are all the sale prices from the last time NFL teams were on the market
(Sips coffee, reads)
Buffalo Bills -- Price: $25,000
"Ehhhh... seems reasonable." (Sips coffee, reads)
Year of purchase - 1959
"Hmmm. Well then." (Sips coffee, reads)
Value of franchise today - $799 million
(Spit take)
posted by Flunkie at 7:55 AM on May 30 [8 favorites]


Racists are shitty, and racist beliefs are shitty, and being a racist is a shitty thing to be, but the shift from "this racist is racist, what a shithead" to "this racist is racist, and must therefore be stripped of his wealth and property" seems a bit... amped-up?

I don't, myself, think that anyone should be "stripping Sterling of his wealth and property"--but that doesn't stop me thinking it's a shame such a racist asshole happens to have hit such an outrageous jackpot. You can think the universe would be a juster and fairer place if the Sterlings weren't billionaires without also thinking that Somebody should step in and enforce that outcome.
posted by yoink at 7:55 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


as a slightly moderate feminist, i am curious to see what a woman owner of a major american sports franchise could do, if her name wasn't georgia frontiere or marge schott.

The Bears are owned by Virginia McCaskey. I have no idea if that's a conclusive list.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:56 AM on May 30


The first woman nba owner will have to come from somewhere.

The two Maloof sisters don't count?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:57 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I heard Bob Knight's coming out of retirement to consult with Ballmer and help with his chair throwing skills.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:00 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


bruce: " as a slightly moderate feminist, i am curious to see what a woman owner of a major american sports franchise could do, if her name wasn't georgia frontiere or marge schott.

The Sacramento Kings. Maloof Family. (On preview, Room 641-A said it first.)

can you blame me? shelly sterling has the flag of sexism in her pocket, which she can raise against the league in 3..2..1. i suspect that she could be a better owner for her team than steve ballmer."

Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see more, decent female team owners. I'm also perfectly fine with one owner not being Rochelle Sterling.

Shepherd: " But the spin that this is some sort of "reward" for the creepy old racist supposes that there is some sort of alternate option where his assets are seized from him without remuneration because he's a creepy old racist. "We can take your stuff if we don't like the way you think" is not a precedent I'm really keen on seeing have force of law."

Dude's a Slumlord Billionaire. No one is weeping for Donald Sterling.
posted by zarq at 8:00 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


All this got started by a delusional 80 year old man telling his trophy girlfriend how to act to avoid compromising his standing, as if he had any standing. lots of really racist shit.
posted by DynamiteToast at 8:00 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Given that individual ownership of individual teams, rather than collective ownership of the league, is a polite fiction, the NBA could have taken its assets out of Sterling's hands, given him jack shit, and probably gotten away with it. But that would set a precedent the other owners absolutely positively do not want to even look like they could think about setting.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:01 AM on May 30


shelly sterling is not responsible for the reprehensible statements and acts of donald sterling. i was kinda hoping she would take over, and the nba would have a strong woman owner, and i am disappoint.

Um, you may not be aware of Shelly Sterling's highly active role in formulating and enforcing the Sterlings' racist housing policies. She is not responsible for Donald Sterling's private conversations with his mistress, no, but she's responsible for what by any standards are far graver racist policies and actions.
posted by yoink at 8:02 AM on May 30 [16 favorites]


*bows to the christopher hundreds and room 641-a* i'm getting too old to keep up with all this shit.
posted by bruce at 8:04 AM on May 30


ESPN's Magazine ran a profile on Sterling in 2009. Deadspin has some highlights.
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on May 30


XQUZYPHYR: Doesn't the sale meant that Sterling now has a profit income of two billion dollars, of which he will owe income tax?

It's considered long term capital gains, at 15%, not income tax at (presumably) 40-45%, isn't it?
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:10 AM on May 30


as a slightly moderate feminist, i am curious to see what a woman owner of a major american sports franchise could do, if her name wasn't georgia frontiere or marge schott.

Oprah was one of the principal investors of a failed bid.

$2B purchase price of a team that was valued at $575M two months ago.

When I was young tyke, I collected baseball cards. My father would tease me about it often, but I tried to show him my financial acumen by pointing to the value of my cards in Beckett. "Arsenio Warren," he'd say. "That card you got right there isn't worth but what some fool will pay you for it."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:13 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


i am curious to see what a woman owner of a major american sports franchise could do

I know you said American, but Olympique de Marseille (soccer/football, French Ligue 1) is currently owned by Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.
posted by the painkiller at 8:13 AM on May 30


Was he racist before the dementia? Does dementia even manifest like that?
posted by corb at 8:16 AM on May 30


I find it delightful that a wife can with ease declare her husband incompetent...my wife has long said that of me, but there was and trust of any kind
posted by Postroad at 8:17 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Oh, jeez, Jeannie Buss!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:17 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Normally, I'd be expressing the thought that if he's suffering from dementia, it's unfair to judge him racist. But in this case, the guy's been racist for years, so screw THAT.

Instead, I'll say that resisting this sale would be a real sign of incompetence right there. It's a better deal than he had any right to expect. So much so that I wonder if the "fighty/combative owner" and "more reasonable wife with authority to negotiate" situation isn't a tactic out of somebody's playbook.
posted by tyllwin at 8:18 AM on May 30


But sure, the Clippers are worth more than the Cowboys.

Its plausible given the NBA's harder cap and lesser degree of revenue sharing compared to the NFL that that a large market NBA franchise is structurally more profitable. Plausible.

I think one could say that the Kings went for 500 ish, the Bucks went for 550 and there were multiple bids close to 2 for the clips is evidence of that.

(Or multiple delusional bidders)
posted by JPD at 8:18 AM on May 30


As a Thunder fan, I wish very sincerely that Ballmer moves the team to Seattle. This would provide a way to put a period on the weird collective fantasy that basketball pundits have for thinking that Seattle is the only city ever with an orphaned fan base.

It's not just that Seattle lost thier team, they get more pity points than say the Bobcats or Grizzlies because (1) Seattle was by far the most storied NBA franchise to pick up and leave town, the Spurs, Rockets and Jazz all had sucess AFTER leaving thier original cities; the Bobcats and Grizz have arguably NEVER had sucess (2) the move from the 6th largest TV market in America to, what, the 45th? NEVER made sense on a long-term economic scale. Durant/Westbrook won't be there forever, and let's check the numbers after they're gone and if the Thunder don't manage to land another Hall of Fame talent to sell tickets (3) they lost by far the best roster to ever switch cities, Durant/Westbrook/Ibaka/Harden were arguably the best constructed young team in the league during and directly after the move and Seattle lost out on watching them all play in Green (4) Clay Bennett publically promised not to move the team, while having a secret deal in place with Stern behind the fan's backs to do it anyway after the city rightly refused to write the league a blank check for yet another new arena.

So yea, Seattle fans got screwed, and it deserves to get said every time the Thunder are mentioned. Getting the Clippers relocated to Seattle would be a huge coup the fans deserve, but probably won't get if this sale price goes through. Although Ballmer has always been a Seattle guy, and has the money to just eat the $2bil and move the team anyway if that's what he wants to do. Buying the Clippers is like 5-10% of his net worth, it'd be the same thing percentage wise as a normal person deciding to buy a speedboat and moving it from one lake to the other. Cross your fingers, Seattle.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:22 AM on May 30 [8 favorites]


If Ballmer paid 2 bil to move the franchise to Seattle from LA then he truly is a schmuck.
posted by JPD at 8:24 AM on May 30


Does dementia even manifest like that?

In some hypothetical old man, who was racist in his youth, but learned and evolved in midlife to reject it, I think that's very plausible. People can seemingly revert to childhood patterns of thought. But this guy has a long history. His racism didn't pop up yesterday. I'd guess it's more likely that he just can no longer do a decent job of realizing how it sounds and self-censoring.
posted by tyllwin at 8:26 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


It's not a reward. It's a punishment. He doesn't want to sell it, so even if he gets money for it, he still is personally viewing this as a loss. He already has more money than he can use, but owning this team gave him something to do and meaning to his life. For an 80 year old pushing his end, with a shit ton of money, a meaningful hobby like that is worth more than more money.
posted by jjmoney at 8:29 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Corollary to the talk about how the Sonics/Thunder move works long-term: What are the odds the Clippers can maintain their own popularity when Griffin and Paul and the rest of this crew are gone and they're back to being the Lakers' little brother? There's got to be some thought about whether it's better to be the only fish in a smaller (but still not tiny) pond.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:30 AM on May 30


If Ballmer paid 2 bil to move the franchise to Seattle from LA then he truly is a schmuck.

There's only so many things you can buy with infinite money, he's already got one of the world's largest yachts, along with probably every material luxury imaginable, dropping a ton of cash to watch your favorite sports team in your own back yard is easily something a comically wealthy sports fan would do. At that point its more about how you want to spend your time than making even more money that you could never spend all of anyway.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:30 AM on May 30


Please let him run out to his first game as owner to "Get On Your Feet". Pretty please. Ohpleaseohplease.
posted by PenDevil at 8:33 AM on May 30 [7 favorites]


except he could have bought the bucks or the kings for less than a third of the price.
posted by JPD at 8:34 AM on May 30


Oh God, my boyfriend has spent all his spare moments recently watching Get On Your Feet/Developers over and over for the past month or so. I am going quietly insane. He greeted this news with "Basketball basketball basketball basketball."
posted by ChuraChura at 8:37 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


except he could have bought the bucks or the kings for less than a third of the price.

Are either of those teams actively for sale? The Clippers were.

Would buying either of those teams turn him into the hero who saved the team from an owner so hated that players were threatening to strike? Buying the Clippers did.

When you have enough money, some things are worth more than billions of dollars.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:39 AM on May 30


Yeah, the franchise is going to Seattle. There's still a lot of bitterness about the Supersonics leaving town, and a lot of MSFT money floating around, and Paul Allen already owns the Seahawks and the Sounders (and the Trailblazers). The divisions will need to be juggled around a bit (With the Nuggets going to the Southwestern Division) - but can you imagine the three-way hate-fest with the Blazers, Thunder and Clippies going at it each year? Adam Silver has to take a moment and bite his tie while making little chimpanzee-noises just thinking about it. Rivalries fill seats and sell ads like nothing else.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:41 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Are either of those teams actively for sale? The Clippers were.

Within the last year
posted by JPD at 8:43 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


But sure, the Clippers are worth more than the Cowboys.

But we don't know what the Cowboys would sell for in an open auction.

The Jags sold for $770M and Browns for $1B. If the Clippers are worth 4x the value of a smaller market team then maybe the Cowboys are too. That would be in the range of $3-4B.

The Forbes valuation is interesting...they valued the Cowboys at $1.8B in 2010 based on 2009 operating income of $143M. Then in 2013 they valued the Cowboys at $2.3B based on 2012 operating income of $250M.

So in 2009, Cowboys are worth 12.6x trailing operating income, according to Forbes

In 2013, after having grown earnings by 75% in three years, Forbes lowers its valuation to 9.2x operating income.

At 9.2x trailing EBIT the Cowboys would be a screaming buy. The average small cap public company trades at 12.3x trailing EBITDA. And the average small cap company is MUCH shittier than the Cowboys franchise.
posted by mullacc at 8:44 AM on May 30



Normally, I'd be expressing the thought that if he's suffering from dementia, it's unfair to judge him racist. But in this case, the guy's been racist for years, so screw THAT.


Senile dementia makes it a lot harder to hide your worst qualities, and so they leak through (unless you're like Diane Rehm and you don't have any.)

Nevertheless, we're still talking about an 80 year old man worried that his trophy girlfriend's public behavior would somehow diminish his standing, and having what he thought was a private conversation with her. Utterly pathetic. More pathetic than King Lear.

And what's worse is that the people who now point out to his slumlord behavior didn't do anything about it before he got this pathetic, when it might have helped.

NBA team ownership is not a passive equity stake. It's an active partnership, and a partner who isn't advancing the NBA's interests has to be Don Drapered out. So be it. But geez. So much bloviation about something so utterly pathetic.
posted by ocschwar at 8:47 AM on May 30


and you think 9x EBITDA for a shitty company is a good idea? And public pro sports franchises aren't also terrible terrible businesses?

And you know how much leverage is on that EBIT? Because I don't.

Don't forget revenue sharing eliminates a bid advantage of being big market, and the cap is softer in the NFL.

I'm just saying comparing NBA to NFL is a bit apples and oranges.

Also Seattle MSA = 3.5 mil LA = 10 Mil. The TV rights even as the #2 team in LA are going to be much higher than in Seattle. Compare the Mets finances to the Mariners for example.
posted by JPD at 8:50 AM on May 30


Senile dementia makes it a lot harder to hide your worst qualities

I think we could do with a bit less of this "in alzheimers veritas" chat. Alzheimers is well known to induce radical personality changes in some people. While it's clearly the case that Sterling has long been a racist asshole you might consider the fact that when you claim that dementia reveals people's "true character" you're telling a lot of people that their beloved grandparents who have become angry, sometimes violent and mean-spirited under the influence of that ghastly disease were actually always like that, but just spent a lifetime hiding it well.
posted by yoink at 8:50 AM on May 30 [20 favorites]


Ballmer tried to buy the Kings in order to move them and got rejected by the league.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:52 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Some of the more interesting reporting on this story has come from sports-law analyst Michael McCann. His most recent column is the NBA's checklist before approving sale of Clippers.
posted by cribcage at 8:54 AM on May 30


I'd imagine it'll be a stock sale rather an asset sale. In CA total cap gain liability will be around 30%.

The trust is almost certainly a joint revocable trust, with 50% owned (beneficially) by each of him and her.
posted by jpe at 8:57 AM on May 30


Ballmers Ballers.

Anyways, there is no way the league will approve this sale without inserting a formal condition that the team stays in LA.
posted by asra at 8:59 AM on May 30



I think we could do with a bit less of this "in alzheimers veritas" chat.


Sterling is still far too lucid for this to be Alzheimer's. This is a plain old 2nd childhood. And since Sterling's first childhood was in the 1930's, well, you get the picture.
posted by ocschwar at 9:01 AM on May 30


Raise your hamburger sandwiches, fellow pale exemplars, raise them in salute and well wishes.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:01 AM on May 30


ChuraChura: Oh God, my boyfriend has spent all his spare moments recently watching Get On Your Feet/Developers over and over for the past month or so.

I hope you guys are otherwise happy together, because this here is the lead-in for the wackiest AskMetafilter relationship question ever.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:02 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


This morning, I was listening to npr while making lunches, and I heard the number as Millions not Billions and couldn't for the life of me figure out why everyone seemed so shocked. I was like, hell, I could probably scrape together enough people to raise 2 million for a sports franchise....
posted by dejah420 at 9:05 AM on May 30


Anyways, there is no way the league will approve this sale without inserting a formal condition that the team stays in LA.

If they do, then I'd have to assume they've convinced him they will no way no how allow an existing franchise to move to Seattle, because fuck those not-paying-for-stadiums jerkbags, and he's going after a seat at the table like McCann says. Because how much would it suck for Ballmer if somebody else ended up bringing basketball back to Seattle?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:05 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


They will undoubtedly, and likely successfully, take the position that it is a forced sale, which permits the proceeds to be reinvested free of capital gains tax (albeit at the essentially zero cost basis here) within a two year period. If they reinvest outside of California in state with no capital gains tax (of which there are several) and hold the assets until a political environment with more favorable capital gains tax rate (like the 10% ultra-long-term rate that many people support), Sterling could have earned his heirs a cool $500 million with this maneuver.
posted by MattD at 9:06 AM on May 30


Sterling is still far too lucid for this to be Alzheimer's. This is a plain old 2nd childhood.

"Plain old 2nd childhood" or "senile dementia" is mostly Alzheimers. And lots of people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's are still very lucid. I'm glad for your sake that nothing in your life has forced you to learn anything at all about these horrible diseases, but the fact that you clearly know nothing at all about them might be a reason not to gaily bandy your opinions about.
posted by yoink at 9:06 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


They will not be able to argue this is a condemnation or involuntary conversion. The only time that has applied is when the state took the property through eminent domain or something similar.

Here, on the other hand, he is selling pursuant to an agreement he voluntarily entered into.
posted by jpe at 9:14 AM on May 30


Also: someone needs to explain to me why Ballmer's strong resemblance to G'Kar from Babylon 5 isn't a massive internet meme.
posted by norm at 9:23 AM on May 30


Also: someone needs to explain to me why Ballmer's strong resemblance to G'Kar from Babylon 5 isn't a massive internet meme.

People like G'Kar. If G'Kar were to leap around a stage screaming "DEVELOPERS!" in front of a stadium full of programmers, they'd to a man all leap into Narn Heavy Industries fighters and fly around seeking unresolved issues to debug for the Honor of the Homeworld. Ballmer, well, we know how that turned out.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:32 AM on May 30 [14 favorites]


except he could have bought the bucks or the kings for less than a third of the price.

Kings were only sold after the attempted move to Seattle was blocked by the other NBA owners.
Bucks were sold with an explicit "no move" clause in the sales agreement.

Maybe Ballmer figures that the other owners will actually approve a move to Seattle since the Clippers are the 2nd LA team.
posted by smackfu at 9:32 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


and you think 9x EBITDA for a shitty company is a good idea? And public pro sports franchises aren't also terrible terrible businesses?

Which is the shitty company, the Clippers or the Cowboys? I don't think the Cowboys are a shitty company. Revenue sharing may take away some advantage of being a big market team but it also reduces the risk. I assumed I keep the big market advantage when it comes to merchandising the brand but that could be wrong.

Other public pro sport teams comps don't seem that informative given the difference btwn NFL and other leagues plus the status of the Cowboys as a brand. MSG trades for 12.5x trailing EBITDA...I wouldn't even pay 9x for it, I don't think. But that's because it also includes the Rangers and the NBA/NHL are so playoff-heavy.

And you know how much leverage is on that EBIT? Because I don't.

Forbes says 12% of the $2.3B, including stadium debt. The NFL limits teams to $200M of debt (presumably excluding the stadium). But why would I be beholden to the current cap structure of the team anyway?
posted by mullacc at 9:38 AM on May 30


Maybe Ballmer figures that the other owners will actually approve a move to Seattle since the Clippers are the 2nd LA team.

I think his preference list is
  1. NBA team in Seattle
  2. big-market NBA team not in Seattle
  3. no NBA team
  4. small-market NBA team not in Seattle.
Sacramento and Milwaukee just didn't entice him enough to bother, but sure, he'll fly down to L.A. for games.
posted by Etrigan at 9:40 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I suspect the cowboys are not a great company. My frame of reference is mostly listed European entities tho.


(I'm not paying 12x for anything though)
posted by JPD at 9:47 AM on May 30


Based on one reporter - the team is not moving anywhere.
posted by asra at 9:51 AM on May 30


Harvey Kilobit, it's sort of an improvement over his last two youtube obsessions? Maybe?
posted by ChuraChura at 9:51 AM on May 30


I suspect the cowboys are not a great company.

They might be uniquely great among NFL teams because apparently Jerry Jones has gamed the licensing revenue sharing scheme.

Anyway, I would pay 9x for the Cowboys because I would start to emasculate the team until some chauvinist good ole boy Texas oil billionaire offered me 20x. They'd be the Dallas Cowgirls with turquoise and pink fringed uniforms and the first all-female or all-dragqueen starting line-up.
posted by mullacc at 9:56 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


If Ballmer paid 2 bil to move the franchise to Seattle from LA then he truly is a schmuck.


Let me tell you about the very rich.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:56 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Bear in mind that the recent NFL draft, an event in which almost nothing happens, had higher ratings than the NBA playoffs showing at the same time. But sure, the Clippers are worth more than the Cowboys.

The NFL's overseas TV deals are respectable but the NBA's are more lucrative; basketball is at this point the second-most popular sport globally after soccer (granted, more people watch cricket than basketball - but that's only because of India and basketball is more widely popular around the world) and the NBA is widely recognized as the highest level of basketball play.

The NFL is more popular in the United States than the NBA is, but the NBA has more global appeal and more potential for global growth - not for nothing is the league investigating the possibility of "NBA Europe" and trying to figure out how to make that work. Meanwhile, the NFL is looking at the serious prospect of hitting saturation levels.
posted by mightygodking at 9:58 AM on May 30


Individual owners make no sense, but then again, they rewrote the rules so that the Green Bay Packers story could never be repeated.

Don't mind me, I'm still bitter about the Minnesota North Stars moving to Dallas.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:12 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Don't mind me, I'm still bitter about the Minnesota North Stars moving to Dallas.

There are people still bitter about the Minnesota Lakers moving to a city without any actual lakes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:15 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


There are people still bitter about the Minnesota Lakers moving to a city without any actual lakes.

And the New Orlean Jazz moving to a city without any groove.
posted by mullacc at 10:17 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


Lakes, tar pits, eh, close enough.
posted by Flunkie at 10:18 AM on May 30


as a slightly moderate feminist, i am curious to see what a woman owner of a major american sports franchise could do, if her name wasn't georgia frontiere or marge schott. can you blame me?

Let me introduce you to Jean Remington Hollander Yawkey.
posted by anastasiav at 10:19 AM on May 30


There are people still bitter about the Minnesota Lakers moving to a city without any actual lakes

Baldwin Lake, Crystal Lake, Elizabeth Lake, Hughes Lake, the Munz Lakes, and Toluca Lake are all natural lakes within Los Angeles County. Suck on that, Minnesotans.
posted by yoink at 10:23 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


Racists are shitty, and racist beliefs are shitty, and being a racist is a shitty thing to be, but the shift from "this racist is racist, what a shithead" to "this racist is racist, and must therefore be stripped of his wealth and property" seems a bit... amped-up?

However, the NBA has ended the NBA careers of players based on their indiscretions, non-relavent medical situations and character issues....so there is a tradition of sorts. It's just unusual when it is applied to an owner rather than employee.
posted by srboisvert at 10:27 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Don't mind me, I'm still bitter about the Minnesota North Stars moving to Dallas.

Never mind residents of the city Sterling stole the Clippers from in the first place. Time for the Clips to come home! After we argue for 10 years about building a new arena.
posted by LionIndex at 10:29 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I just wanted Seattle to have a team called the Seattle Amazons.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:40 AM on May 30


I just wanted Seattle to have a team called the Seattle Amazons.

Surely that would have to be a WNBA team, no?
posted by yoink at 10:41 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Six lakes in a single county are not enough to suck on =)

the Munz Lakes
It is just one lake, so why the S?
posted by soelo at 10:44 AM on May 30


I will throw a fucking fit if Ballmer moves a franchise he paid $2B for to Seattle and there is even so much as a dollar in public financing for an arena. Like, mad enough to consider filing a lawsuit kinda mad. Which mostly means that I'm getting old and cranky, but still. $2B. For a fucking sports team. I know it's only like ten percent of his net worth and he can spend it on whatever he wants, but what a goddamn waste. The capital gains tax on the sale will I think be more than the highest amount ever paid for an NBA franchise previously. This feels like some kind of canary in the coal mine for economic collapse for me.

Gonna stop ranting now and eat some protein.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:44 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Baldwin Lake, Crystal Lake, Elizabeth Lake, Hughes Lake, the Munz Lakes, and Toluca Lake are all natural lakes within Los Angeles County. Suck on that, Minnesotans.

Six lakes in a 12,000 sq. km county? We've got more lakes in the 151 sq. km that make up the city of Minneapolis.
posted by Area Man at 10:46 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Six lakes in a 12,000 sq. km county? We've got more lakes in the 151 sq. km that make up the city of Minneapolis.

Hey, you could have called them "The Minnesota Definitely More than Six Lakers." Or even "The Minnesota Oh What A Lot of Lakes We've Gotters." Don't come whining to me when you've simply reaped the penalty of your own lake complacency.
posted by yoink at 10:48 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


the Munz Lakes
It is just one lake, so why the S?


You have to count them more than wuntz.
posted by yoink at 10:49 AM on May 30 [7 favorites]


Just to be clear, they were the Minneapolis Lakers, not the Minnesota Lakers. In these politically correct and oversensitive days we have to name everything "Minnesota" so that the dumb clucks over in St. Paul don't feel left out, but the Minneapolis Lakers played in a different and harsher era.
posted by Area Man at 10:56 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


someone needs to explain to me why Ballmer's strong resemblance to G'Kar from Babylon 5 isn't a massive internet meme.

Narns, Humans, Centauri, Developers… we all do what we do for the same reason: because it seems like a good idea at the time.
posted by nubs at 10:58 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Without even getting into the idea of whether the team is worth $2 billion, Ballmer just bought membership into a very, very exclusive club, with only 30 seats available. Larry Ellison has been trying to get a seat at that table for years, as have other assorted billionaires. It's 'cool' to be an nba owner, in ways that you don't really see in other sports as much,Jerry Jones aside. Quick, name five current NFL owners, not including your favorite team. Baseball? Hockey? I couldn't, and I love football. NBA owners are visible parts of their franchise, in the sport that's arguably the best at getting uninstructed faces on camera. No helmets, no facemasks, the players, coaches, refs and owners are all visible, with plenty of air time on faces every game. It's instant rock star status, which Ballmer seems to crave.

After all of that, there's the league itself. The owners just crushed the players in the last lockout. The players union still doesn't have a elected representative, and the last one was fired for nepotism and cronyism, and was more harm than good for years. The luxury tax collected from teams over the cap is distributed to teams under it, which adds up, and the new tv contract is going to be huge. The rumors of fix trying to get the contract means the price is going to be absurd. I can't see ESPN/ABC/Disney just rolling over on that. The clippers can almost certainly get their own local network deal if they don't have one already, bringing in more money.

Then there's the team as it is now. You've got Doc Rivers, a damn good coach, and possibly the best possible coach in a situation like what just happened. He's widely respected, and had he told the players not to play, they likely would have agreed. Players want to play for him, and in a league where salaries for the 'middle class' players have been squeezed, you need something extra to bring in a quality player for less than they could get on a different team. Rivers is one of they few coaches that can attract that kind of player.

Then you've got Lob City. Paul is almost certainly a hall of fame player, and probably the best pure point since Stockton. Griffin is growing as a player, and sells tickets, jerseys, anything with his name on it. At the moment, they've seemingly gone as far as they can, second round of the playoffs is nothing to sneeze at in the western conference.

And then there's the Lakers, who are supposed to be the glamorous team. They just agreed to an extension for nearly $30 a year to Kobe Bryant, who is falling apart. Steve Nash is owed $10 million, and he's in even worse shape. Gasol is almost certainly gone, and they ended up with the sixth or seventh pick in a draft that's got five potential franchise players. They still don't have a coach, and they started Nick Young and Jodie Meeks for large parts of the year. The Los Angeles band wagon is currently hitched to the Clippers, and the lakers aren't going to be magically good anytime soon.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:59 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Shepherd: "But the spin that this is some sort of "reward" for the creepy old racist supposes that there is some sort of alternate option where his assets are seized from him without remuneration because he's a creepy old racist. "We can take your stuff if we don't like the way you think" is not a precedent I'm really keen on seeing have force of law."

No, but it's certainly not unreasonable to suggest that reasonable individuals should be reluctant to engage in business transactions with people like Donald Sterling, and we should think less of Steve Ballmer because he chose to bid up the price, to the point where Sterling ended up making a killing on the sale.

I know that this is not how capitalism works, but in a just and reasonable world, the team should have sold at fire-sale prices (and certainly not at an astronomical, record-setting price that is impossible to justify as a sane investment), because no person would want to go anywhere near the Sterling family.
posted by schmod at 11:11 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to see the rivalry between Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer at Blazers/Clippers games! My very first thought when I heard this was how irritated Allen must be (I'm a lifelong Blazers fan though so of course I thought of Paul). As far as I know, he still blames Ballmer & Gates for trying to dilute his stock and force him out of Microsoft when he had lymphoma in 1983.
posted by dialetheia at 11:11 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Was he racist before the dementia? Does dementia even manifest like that?

Yes, he was racist before the dementia.

Also note that in the linked article above is the funniest deposition in the history of Law.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:16 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Yeah - dementia manifests in some really hideous ways. My FIL has become inappropriately and publicly sexual which is (unfortunately) fairly common in Alzheimer's, however, Sterling was, indeed, racist before. If he has dementia, he likely just doesn't have the filters anymore to keep it out of the news.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:19 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


"Sir, the question was, is this your handwriting?"

Just... wow.
posted by zarq at 11:35 AM on May 30


the team should have sold at fire-sale prices ... because no person would want to go anywhere near the Sterling family.

Are you saying that the team is haunted?
posted by mullacc at 11:36 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


as a slightly moderate feminist, i am curious to see what a woman owner of a major american sports franchise could do, if her name wasn't georgia frontiere or marge schott.

Venus and Serena Williams are part owners of the Miami Dolphins
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:52 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


This thread needs more V. Stiviano visors
posted by ouke at 11:55 AM on May 30


"Sir, the question was, is this your handwriting?"

Just... wow.
That might not be as bad as it seems. Note that the picture starts with line 2 on the page, which is the start of Sterling's answer; line 1, presumably the question or at least the end of it, has been clipped out. The unclipped version shows line 1 as:
Q: Are you one of those men that does that?
I haven't been able to find the previous page anywhere, but just from that line it seems unlikely that the lawyer was correct that "the" question was "Is this your handwriting".

I don't doubt that "Is this your handwriting" was part of the questioning done at some point, but "Are you one of those men that does that" seems kind of hard to shoehorn into meaning "Is this your handwriting". So I'd bet that the lawyer actually asked several things, Sterling responded to one or some of them, then the lawyer explicitly pointed out one of his questions that he didn't answer.
posted by Flunkie at 11:59 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


"Sir, the question was, is this your handwriting?"

Just... wow.


It never gets old.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:00 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


When Ballmer's accountants finish the spreadsheets on how much a move to Seattle would cost him there is no way that guy is going to move the team. When he told the WallStreet journal he wouldn't move (Moving them anywhere else would be value destructive) that may not have been his full intention but he is not stupid.
posted by bukvich at 12:33 PM on May 30


Balmer's first move as owner? H1B small forwards.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:51 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Donald Sterling filing $1B lawsuit against NBA
posted by Room 641-A at 3:10 PM on May 30


Donald Sterling filing $1B lawsuit against NBA

Came in just to post that. Hoooo boy - somebody make popcorn.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:12 PM on May 30


Oh yeah!? Well, I uh, I uh, I sue Donald Sterling for TEN billion dollars! Yeah!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:27 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Room 641-A: "Donald Sterling filing $1B lawsuit against NBA"

"He said Sterling is still weighing legal action against his wife (...)"

Holy shit.
posted by boo_radley at 3:33 PM on May 30


Why do I find myself rooting for Donald Sterling? Maybe because he's a sad, sick, old man? I hope he exposes some more of our society's cultural horrors, because there are lots.

What's sad is that no one would care at all about the terrible things he's done if not for his (perhaps literally) demented comments to his girlfriend. (I'm sure I'm not the first to make that point...) I guess I'm with Kareem

"He said Sterling is still weighing legal action against his wife (...)"

Yes, I don't know why, but that makes me smile as well. I guess I like making mockeries of things. I admit I haven't followed the story much. ^_^
posted by mrgrimm at 3:36 PM on May 30


Why do I find myself rooting for Donald Sterling?

#slatepitches
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:52 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]


The players are reportedly concerned that if Steve Balmer is allowed to purchase the Clippers, the team's bus will frequently crash because no one can find the proper drivers for it.
posted by 4ster at 4:16 PM on May 30 [10 favorites]


One thing I left out (doesn't seem possible in that wall o text) is that the clippers lease at the staples center runs for another nine years. That, combined with Ballmer's statements about the value of the team deriving from its location, yeah, they're not going anywhere.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:34 PM on May 30


ghidorah (10:59 AM): "the lakers aren't going to be magically good anytime soon."

hang on to your hat. time after time, the lakers have dealt their way back into greatness, acquiring big pieces for small consideration; wilt from philadelphia, kareem from milwaukee, shaq from orlando, pau from memphis, etc. when this phenomenon became so overt that it was undeniable, i started calling it "the invisible hand of the league". yeah, they blocked the chris paul deal just to provide a counterexample against the critics. we'll be back, we just need to hire the right coach now. i was talking about this with another fan wednesday night; we agreed that byron scott has the shortest odds, but i want derek fisher.
posted by bruce at 5:19 PM on May 30


One thing I left out (doesn't seem possible in that wall o text) is that the clippers lease at the staples center runs for another nine years.

Not that I think the team is going anywhere, but isn't this like always the case and it has never stopped a team from moving? The Sonics had time left on their lease too.
posted by john-a-dreams at 5:21 PM on May 30


It's so nice to see that the Sterlings are the Schotts of a new generation. I was worried we'd left institutionalized racism behind.
posted by Spatch at 5:24 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


but i want derek fisher.

You and me, both. (Then again, I used to have a purple Beta named "D-Fish, de fish" so I'm a little biased.)
posted by Room 641-A at 5:43 PM on May 30


Shelly Sterling Will Protect NBA From Donald Sterling Lawsuit
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:13 PM on May 30


Donald Sterling is not getting a $2 billion dollar reward. He is getting hit several hundred million in taxes, that he had hoped to avoid altogether by holding the asset in the trust forever. Suppose you had something worth $100 and you sold it. Now you have $100 in cash, but your overall wealth hasn't changed. Now if you bought the thing for $100 and you sold it for $100 then you are clear from a tax perspective (less sales taxes). However if you bought the item for $10 more than a year ago, then you owe 15% capital gains tax on the $90 in appreciation (plus any state taxes). So once we take out the amount for taxes then you've actually converted $100 into $86.50, meaning that you lost $13.50 in your net worth from an overall perspective.
posted by humanfont at 8:19 PM on May 30


Net worth really shouldn't be figured without accounting for tax liability. I'd appear a lot richer too if I counted everything pre-taxes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:14 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Also his worth on paper was probably considerably less when calculating the value of the Clippers at some assumed level instead of two billion dollars.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:54 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


There are scenarios under which Sterling would owe no taxes on this sale though he likely would have had to plan for it in advance which obviously isn't the case. But I almost wish it would turn out he pays no taxes here since the outrage might be channeled into tax reform. That's probably a pipe dream but a guy can hope.
posted by Justinian at 12:22 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


He had a plan to avoid taxes called a trust.
posted by humanfont at 2:12 PM on May 31


That's an inter-generational instrument. If he had arranged it so that all his income this year was from long term capital gains and tax free dividends he could have ended up paying 0% on the sale of the Clippers even after having been forced to sell but he would have had to know in advance.
posted by Justinian at 2:21 PM on May 31


>Are you saying that the team is haunted?

It was just old man Sterling in a rubber mask.

If it wasn't for those meddling kids he would have gotten away with it too.
posted by Bonzai at 3:53 PM on May 31


Capital gains and dividends are taxed. Thanks to Obama it has gone from 15% for everyone to 20% for the wealthiest people, plus a 3.8% tax for Obamacare. So thanks to Obama his federal tax bill will be 23.8%. Also California adds a ln extra 13.3% on top. After various deductions related to federal and state taxes are factored in it ends up at 33%. So Sterling has lost almost seven hundred million dollars on the sale.
posted by humanfont at 5:06 PM on May 31


So Sterling has lost almost seven hundred million dollars on the sale.

I guess he'll have to find a way to console himself with the remaining 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS. A sum far exceeding what anyone thinks the team would have been worth if he'd tried to sell it under normal circumstances.

If I win 10 million bucks at lotto and have to give 3 million to the taxman, I'm not going to think of myself as 3 million bucks the poorer than if I'd never won the lottery at all.
posted by yoink at 5:14 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Capital gains and dividends are taxed. Thanks to Obama it has gone from 15% for everyone to 20% for the wealthiest people

Capital gains are sometimes taxed.

If you earn 100% of your income from long term capital gains they are taxed at 0%. Yes, 0%.
posted by Justinian at 5:35 PM on May 31


(Dividends are also sometimes taxed since you can buy tax free bonds.)
posted by Justinian at 5:36 PM on May 31


The only way in which Sterling lost is that he wanted the basketball team more than he wanted the $1.x billion.

The argument that he lost $y million because he has to pay taxes on a massive profit is basically saying that all sales are a loss for the seller. Of course, this is exactly the kind of framing that conservatives use to argue for repealing any and all taxes, but especially capital gains taxes.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:56 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


When are cap gains not taxed?
posted by JPD at 8:03 PM on May 31


I think the delicious thing about this is that up until a month ago, his legacy would have been having owned the Clippers.

Now? His legacy is "Life long racist who had his favourite toy forcibly taken from him."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:10 PM on May 31


When are cap gains not taxed?

Long term capital gains are not taxed when your earned income places you in the 0, 10 or 15% tax brackets. So if you structure your income such that all or virtually all of your money comes from qualified dividends and long term capital gains you fall into one of those brackets on your earned income and therefore pay 0% on your long term capital gains.

So if you are a CEO and heroically agree to take a salary of $1 a year you can then sell stock worth $100million and so long as you've held it for a sufficient period of time your total tax burden is 0.

I'm not saying this is a common situation because it takes very little earned or short term capital gains income (compared to how rich these people are) to pop you above the 15% tax bracket but it is certainly possible, and I do know people who make lots of money every year and pay very little taxes because of it.
posted by Justinian at 8:24 PM on May 31


You know, that is just completely fucked up. I can understand having an exemption to a modest dollar amount like 100K or something but paying no taxes on a gain of two billion? That this is a thing is just wrong. I'm having a hard time convincing myself that anyone could be so "Fuck you I've got mine" as to purposefully structure their finances this way though obviously they do.
posted by Mitheral at 12:41 AM on June 1


Like I said, though, I very much doubt Sterling is in such a situation. He would have had to have known well in advance that he was going to sell the team and deliberately manage his finances in such a way to avoid any sort of short term income. That's more trouble than its worth for most people... but for a one-time gain of 2billion USD? Shit yeah it'd be worth it.
posted by Justinian at 1:24 AM on June 1


You'd pay AMT in that case.
posted by JPD at 5:12 AM on June 1


I don't believe that's the case. But this is probably no longer relevant to this situation!
posted by Justinian at 8:22 AM on June 1


Whenever I think about these sale prices, and worth valuations, I'm always wondering how much of that is the person fronting for a variety of loans and investors as "leverage" who would need to be paid off before taking home any cash.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:48 AM on June 1


AMT is calculated off of AGI - Cap Gains are part of AGI. AMT was invested precisely to eliminate the loophole you mentioned.
posted by JPD at 9:48 AM on June 1


I'm not hugely familiar with the AMT since it doesn't apply to me so this isn't the hill I'm going to die on. I hope you are correct.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 AM on June 1


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