NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver issued the unprecedented lifetime ban on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and $2.5 million fine, the team quickly issued a statement: "Now the healing process begins."
Commissioner Silver is being heralded -- deservedly --for his leadership in the wake of Sterling's racist statements, which remind us that bigotry exists in all levels of society. But as the Clippers family and everyone else who denounce hatred are quick to embrace the healing process, Commissioner Silver's job is far from over.
No one will be healed until a new signature appears on the paychecks of all who are employed by the Clippers.
To that end, given Sterling's litigious past and his net worth of roughly $2 billion, expect him to prolong the agony. According to Sports Illustrated, Sterling can file an antitrust lawsuit against the league if he chooses.
With the vast majority of NBA team owners supporting Silver, it appears the commissioner will get the 3/4 votes needed to force Sterling to sell the franchise, which, according to Forbes, is worth $575 million. Sterling bought the team in 1981 for $12 million; he moved the team from San Diego to Los Angeles three years later. So he's not walking away empty-handed.
The question is, how much would he take to walk away quietly? Perhaps more important, Silver and the NBA have to find a suitable replacement. By "suitable" I'm referring to someone (or a group) that is "symbolic" in the sense that she/he/they represent everything that Sterling was against. So far the list of possible bidders includes:
It's only fitting that we lead off with Magic Johnson, who was one the subjects of Sterling's racist remarks. Recall, Sterling's racist remarks were prompted by him seeing pictures of his girlfriend with Johnson, which she posted on Instagram. Following a legendary playing career, Johnson has parlayed its popularity and charisma into a successful business man and serial entrepreneur.
According to Forbes, Johnson is worth north of $500 million. Johnson is currently part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers after his ownership group put up $2 billion. According to reports, Johnson and his financial backers at Guggenheim, are interested in buying the team. The NBA is aware. And given Johnson's existing ties to the city of Los Angeles, I don't know if there is a better fit. the fact that he is black works in his favor. Yes, I said it.