The Donald Sterling imbroglio captivated both sports and non-sports fans this past week. The story moved so fast that we went, in a span of a few days, from not knowing a thing about the L.A. Clippers owner to knowing far too much and then seeing him banned as an NBA owner. Looking at it in review, I see some clear winners and losers.
Winner: Swift Justice. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, in a matter of hours, performed an investigation, weighed the facts and made a decision quickly and steadfastly. NBA players were rightfully outraged by Sterling, and had Silver not made his decision quickly and justly, there could have been a complete revolt from the players. At the same time, it was very clear from all parties that Silver had to cut the head off the snake. He did and did it swiftly.
Loser: Bigotry and Racism. Tolerance for bigotry and racism in America is fading fast, and Silver's decision resonates across the professional landscape. We are not OK with Sterling's behavior. Yes, you could argue that his racism was nothing new when you heard about prior litigation and accusations from previous employees, but when the issue hit the national platform, it was dealt with appropriately and with consensus.
Winner: Sterling's Attorneys (Moving forward). While this story reached its climax on Tuesday when Sterling was banned, it is certainly not over. Dig in for a legal fight because there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, and Sterling's corporate attorneys are going to rack up substantial billable hours crafting Sterling's exit as an NBA owner. It's not like he can just hand over the keys to the building and walk away.
Loser: Sterling's Estate Plan. With Sterling being forced to sell the team, it means he is going to have to pay capital gains tax on the sale. Previously, he was only expecting to pay estate taxes on the value of team when he passes away -- remember, the guy's 80. Slate.com did some back of the envelope calculations on this. (Thankfully, the only thing I'm allowed to write on the back of an envelope is a return address.) Slate's story suggests that this could end up costing Sterling an additional $140 million in taxes.
Winner: The Term "Estranged." A whole generation of children now know what the term "estranged" means because their parents had to explain it to them in the context of this story. While some of us will always envision an estranged spouse as a wayward soul living far away in a house on wheels, we had to explain to our kids that you can be married and not be living with your spouse -- and still not be divorced. We explained a term which many people had forgotten or not used very often.
Loser: Initials for First Names. Sterling's ex-girlfriend/mistress goes by the name V. Stiviano. Was it just me or was this one of the first things you thought of when you saw her name: What kind of name is V? How does she get to be identified as merely V? I don't understand. For clarification, her real name is Vanessa Perez. She actually went to the same high school as Sterling -- just 48 years later. And his last name wasn't always "Sterling." He was born Donald Tokawitz. But who gets to be named an initial? Unless you are T. Boone Pickens, you don't get to have one letter as a name; and even T. Boone is called Boone by his friends. I'm glad Vanessa was called out.
Winner: Loyal, Committed Couples. This story would be much different if this guy had just remained in a committed relationship. The fact that he was estranged from his wife, had a mistress and lived a "playground of the rich" lifestyle contributes to the overall consternation. He makes people who have stayed in loyal, committed relationships look even stronger.
Loser: Mistresses and Sugar Babies. If this story doesn't tell wealthy men to keep it in their pants, what story will? This guy likes his "arm candy" but the story broke and was magnified because his "girlfriend" was allegedly recording his conversations. Of course, you can't condone any of the participants' conduct, but perhaps Sterling's plight with his Sugar Baby will jolt the moral compasses of would-be Sugar Daddies.
Winner: TMZ. Long a powerful center of celebrity gossip, TMZ broke a story which grabbed national headlines for days. Just as Deadspin.com took a big leap when it broke the Manti T'eo story last year, TMZ gets a boost from revealing Sterling's rants.
Loser/Winner: Manufacturer of the Bizarre Stiviano Sun Visor. Have you seen the Darth Vader-esque visor that Vanessa was seen wearing as the paparazzi circled? Jeanne Moos from CNN did a great piece on it. How would you feel this week if you were the manufacturer of that product? The infamous girl of the moment is flaunting your product on national TV. Perhaps it's good for sales in the short term. They will definitely see a boost around Halloween.
Who do you think the winners and losers were this week?
This post originally appeared on DavidPRblog.com.