Before leaving this point, it is important to consider who exactly "owns" the Clippers right now given that Mr. Sterling has been banished from the league effective immediately. In response to Commissioner Silver's punishment, the Clippers issued a statement saying: "We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins."
Who is "we?" Does Mr. Sterling for the time being have all of the financial burden of owning a team with none of the corresponding rights?
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Commissioner Silver's action was unprecedented. The decision now stands as precedent. In the law, a precedent is a ruling that guides the resolution of future incidents raising the same or similar facts.
The principle is rooted in fairness; like cases should be decided alike. When like cases are not decided alike, a claim may be made that the later decision is arbitrary or, worse, motivated by unlawful considerations. What enduring rule emerges from these facts and this decision? Is it that a lifetime ban and maximum monetary punishment is warranted for the expression of repugnant views, even if those views are expressed privately and, perhaps, recorded illegally? And repugnant how and to whom exactly? Alternatively, when a controversy like this inevitably arises again, will the ruling be considered one-of-a-kind, not really usable as meaningful precedent at all, limited to the uniquely disturbing facts of this episode?