Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Always Trust Your Own Judgment and Do Not Rely on the So-Called Experts

By Victor J. Ward

The NBA/Donald Sterling situation has been a great reminder of a very valuable lesson: Never trust the media, and, when possible, always think for yourself and don’t trust so called experts.

The NBA imposed three penalties on Sterling:
  1. A lifetime ban from NBA games;
  2. A $2,500,000 fine; and 
  3. Forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers
Number 3 will happen if/when 75% of the owners vote to eject Sterling from the ranks of NBA owners.

In a previous post, the author mentioned why #3 was unlikely to happen. But, the NBA case is even weaker than I first thought:

The first two penalties come from Article 24 of the NBA Constitution. The pertinent part reads:

The Commissioner shall, wherever there is a rule forwhich no penalty is specifically fixed for violation thereof, have theauthority to fix such penalty as in the Commissioner’s judgment shallbe in the best interests of the Association. Where a situation ariseswhich is not covered in the Constitution and By-Laws, theCommissioner shall have the authority to make such decision,including the imposition of a penalty, as in his judgment shall be in thebest interests of the Association. The penalty that may be assessedunder the preceding two sentences may include, without limitation, afine, suspension, and/or the forfeiture or assignment of draft choices.No monetary penalty fixed under this provision shall exceed$2,500,000. (Emphasis added.)
Note the wording in bold: “Where a situation arises which is not covered in the Constitution and By-Laws.” Obviously, the Commissioner used this section because there is nothing in the NBA Constitution (that I have read) which prevents an owner from having a private conversation that may have racist overtones.

Now, take a look at Article 13, the section authorizing the termination of Sterling’s ownership:

"The Membership of a Member or the interest of any Ownermay be terminated by a vote of three fourths (3/4) of the Board ofGovernors if the Member or Owner shall do or suffer any of thefollowing:(a) Willfully violate any of the provisions of theConstitution and By-Laws, resolutions, or agreements of theAssociation.” (Emphasis added.)

The Commissioner wants to use this section to completely remove Sterling. For this section to have any merit, there must be a willful violation of the provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws.

So, in order to impose the $2,500,000 fine, the Commissioner must show that Sterling’s actions are not covered in the Constitution and By-Laws. But, in order to force the sale, the Commissioner must show that Sterling’s actions violated provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws.

How can Sterling do something not covered by provisions in the Constitution and, simultaneously, have this same action violate a provision of the Constitution?

If anyone in the media or any legal expert had bothered to do a little bit of investigation rather than breathlessly cry “Racsim!” they would have recognized the NBA’s dilemma.

I don’t know how hard Sterling wants to fight his penalties. He may decide to sell and make a really, really nice profit. But, if he does decide to fight, my money is on him.

Victor J. Ward is a long-time EPJ reader, who first came across libertarianism by reading Murray Rothbard's Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy and Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps got "Sterlinged" will enter our vocabulary as did Borked