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The NBA: Values and Public Opinion Will Prevail

04/30/2014 12:37 pm 12:37:21 | Updated Jun 30, 2014

The response to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's decision yesterday on LA Clippers' owner Donald Sterling clearly has been full-court support.

And rightly so.

The NBA took a very strong position, with a principled view toward what is right in the long run. There is no place in the NBA for racism -- unacceptable by any measure.

Commissioner Silver's decision was one based on values and the long-term reputation of the NBA. He knew what he had to do. And for that he deserves the credit.

For the sake of the NBA -- the teams, the players, the fans and everyone watching -- he saw that the time was now. There was no other decision.

Adrian Wojnarowski, writing in Yahoo Sports under the headline "Adam Silver's Ban of Donald Sterling Unites the NBA," added an exclamation point:

From the moment Adam Silver listened to those tapes of Donald Sterling, the NBA's commissioner understood the unmistakable and unprecedented breadth of his burden: He had to make an owner disappear. All these years of the league legitimizing this morally bankrupt and despicable man had come calling for Silver now, had become David Stern's bequeath to his successor, and hell promised to break loose."

But, it's not over yet. And the real test of principles and values will come down the road when the legal battle begins and the NBA comes under even more pressure.

It seems common knowledge that Mr. Sterling is a hard-fighting attorney and the expectation is that he will fight tooth-and-nail on this. Money is not an issue for him. According to reports, his net worth is almost $2 billion.

Writing in Sports Illustrated on sports law, Michael McCann talks about an "epic legal fight":

In a historic announcement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has handed Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA, along with issuing the maximum allowable fine of $2.5 million. Of greater significance, Silver has also instructed NBA owners to oust Sterling as owner of the team. The announcement sets the table for an epic legal fight over ownership of the Clippers and the powers of the commissioner.

The battle will be one of values and principle. At stake is the long-term reputation of the NBA.

And no one is waiting on the sidelines or simply resting on the powerful language of Commissioner Silver at his press conference. The Clippers took the offense immediately. It released its "We Are One" video before last night's game. With t-shirts all around, it told the whole story and was a bold move, uniting fans and players.

In what could well become a battle where public opinion finds itself pitted against lawyers, those three words were the first salvo.

To fight their hardest, lawyers will likely raise a range of provocative questions -- ranging from the broader issues of freedom of speech, to the 32-year ownership of the Clippers, and to the contractual legal rights of owners to reject another owner.

However, as in situations where public opinion is at the forefront, what is in the best interests of you and me will prevail. Regardless of how tough the fight might be.