It really doesn’t matter

By Bill Taylor

May 13, 2014

It seems to me that the recent enormous uproar caused by the airing of the audio recording(s) of racist comments by Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team owner Donald Sterling has pretty well settled his fate. The National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner, Mr Silver, quickly banned Mr Sterling from the NBA for life and fined him a couple million dollars.

That means Mr Sterling can have nothing to do with the team he owns - including any contact with the team or even attending any of its games. According to those who understand the rules of NBA ownership, Mr Silver has the authority to impose these penalties without any kind of hearing - yep, investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner all rolled up into one. Case closed! The only question left is whether the NBA owners will force Mr Sterling to sell the team.

You know, I got to thinking there are still some curious kinda side-issues that likely will never be addressed - after all, it really doesn’t matter since the case is essentially closed.

The recording of this private conversation was made by and in the home of a 31-year-old woman who goes by the name of V. Stiviano. I heard several minutes of the recording as it was broadcast and was impressed by the way Ms Stiviano kept after Mr Sterling on the subject of his “racist” attitude. He repeatedly tried to change the subject but she refused and kept hammering away at him - reminding me of the way a lawyer or investigator might keep questioning a reluctant witness to elicit a damaging or incriminating remark.

I suppose it really doesn’t matter since the case is essentially closed, but who is this woman, anyway?

She is reportedly a one-time model who has grown very close to Mr Sterling - often being seen at Clippers games and charity events with the 80-year-old billionaire. Just how close may be suggested by Ms Stiviano being named as the defendant in a lawsuit brought in March 2014 by Mr. Sterling’s wife, Rochelle,seeking to recoup marital community assets given to Ms. Stiviano by Mr Sterling.

These assets amount to $240,000 in living expenses, $1.8 million to buy an upscale duplex home in Los Angeles and several luxury cars, including a Ferrari, two Bentleys, and a Range Rover. That’s pretty “close”, wouldn’t you say? Interesting, but it really doesn’t matter since the case is essentially closed.. Oh, there’s a bit more on this angle. Ms Stiviano made this recording of several hours duration about six months before the snippets with the racial comments were made public. Yep, they were released about a month after the lawsuit was filed.

According to a statement released by the Clippers to the news media, after the lawsuit was instituted Ms. Stiviano promised she would “get even” with the Sterlings. Furthermore, once again according to news reports, Ms. Stiviano seemed to be hinting weeks before the scandal broke that a big secret was about to be revealed, posting messages on the social networking site Instagram about “Skeletons in the Closet” and “It’s all coming out!”

Interesting, but it really doesn’t matter since this case is essentially closed. Ms Stiviano claims she did not wish Mr. Sterling any ill will and had nothing to do with publicly releasing that portion of the recording she made and which showed up so mysteriously. Why the recording was made, what is on the remaining unaired portion, and who released it remain unanswered questions.

Interesting, but it really doesn’t matter since this case essentially closed. Oh, there’s one more kinda curious side-issue. Mr. Sterling has remained quiet, probably following instructions from his lawyers, but there is a single comment attributed to him about this entire sorry mess.

He is quoted as saying, “ I should just have paid her off.” Well now. Sure makes a body wonder who the “her” is, how much she wanted, and for what. Interesting, but it really doesn’t matter since this case is essentially closed. Well, Mr. Sterling is still waiting for the other shoe to drop - will he be forced by the other owners to sell the Clippers?

An interesting point here is that the owners must approve not only divesting Mr. Sterling of his ownership but must also approve any new buyer. Could the owners require Mr. Sterling to sell the Clippers, valued at around $800 million, to a buyer of their choice who might offer well below market price for the team? Interesting, but it really doesn’t matter since this case essentially closed. At least that’s how it seems to me.

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident may be contacted at solie1@juno.com.