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Now that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and all the NBA owners are, for a thousand good reasons, determined to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling out of the league, the obvious legal question is whether they have the power to force that sale. In this case, it looks as though it’s a split decision.
Section 13 of the NBA Constitution and By-Laws sets the grounds for termination, and, as argued on Fox Sports, these do not seem to include any clause that allows the league to terminate membership on the ground that the conduct of an owner has been detrimental to the good will and reputation of the NBA. Yet that same constitution explicitly blocks any recourse to the courts once a final decision is made. Let’s unpack both points.