Magic Johnson reportedly wants to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald Sterling, but at this point it’s unclear if the NBA can force Sterling to sell the team.Even the experts can’t seem to agree.
Jeffrey Kessler, a sports lawyer familiar with the NBA’s constitutional bylaws, told the Wall Street Journal that the bylaws do give the commissioner power to force an owner to sell.
However, sports law expert Michael McCann writes that forcing Sterling out is “unlikely to happen.” McCann notes that the language in the NBA’s constitution does give the NBA power to oust an owner, but “only in very limited circumstances” dealing with team finances and whether or not the owner can pay the bills.
There are other options for the NBA short of directly forcing the sale of the team according to McCann.
The league could suspend Sterling indefinitely or take over operations of the team. Both moves could indirectly force Sterling to sell the team although the process may take longer.
During a press conference on Saturday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver would not say whether or not he or the other owners have the power to remove Sterling. However, Silver did say the constitution and bylaws give his office “broad powers” and allow for a “range of sanctions.”
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