Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 30, 2014

Focus turns to forcing Sterling to sell team

Questions still loom over the scandal on alleged comments made by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling as NBA commissioner Adam Silver begins his plan to force Sterling out of the league.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> first up today, the clippers scored a big win on the court last night. but big questions still loom today as nba commissioner adam silver begins his plan to force l.a. clippers owner donald sterling out of the league. completely. following yesterday's lifelong ban on sterling 's interactions with the league and the $2.5 million fine that was levied against him which will be donated to anti-discrimination causes, silver says he will now pressure the board of governors , that's the nba 's shadowy group of team owners, to make sterling sell. it will take a super majority of the board, three-quarters o f them, to terminate sterling 's owner sh e ownership. so what are the odds?

>> there's no way that they can continue to own a team and, on the other hand, support what mr. sterling espouses.

>> even if there are some owners, let's say a handful, that have some misgivings not because they have any sympathy for sterling , but because they think there's something about the process that disturbs them, they can't run the public relations risk of appearing to in any way either side with donald sterling or to mitigate his guilt.

>> also unclear, whether sterling will fight his ouster in court. the team, after all, is his property. joining me now is former nba player aton thomas. thank you so much, sir, for joining.

>> thanks for having me.

>> first off, forcing sterling 's to sell comes down to the league's owners. you've worked with these guys. how do you think they'll respond?

>> i think they have no choice but to respond the way commissioner adam silver said to respond. the way he did it, he didn't say he was going to poll them. he didn't say he was going to leave it up to them. he said he was going to drive this through. they don't have any other way they can do it. mark cuban before was talking about how he was pretty much against it. after adam silver said what he said, mark cuban automatically tweeted, he's like, okay. i'm all for what adam silver said. because he has -- he wasn't given any other option.

>> right. and, actually, even for those relatively measured comments, he got a tremendous amount of blowback. in some senses they can't afford to appear to be supporting him. of course there's also the issue of wealth here. sterling paid $12 million for the clippers in the early '80s. if he sells now he could make as much as a billion dollars.

>> right.

>> given that he still stands to profit and this much, is the punishment enough, do you think?

>> well, you know, i would have liked to see him, you know, return just what he originally paid it for. they're not going to do that. i mean, he's still going to fight it. he's definitely going to fight it. this is something where if it was worth $12 million in 1981 and right now he could sell it for almost a billion, what do you think it's going to be worth in 20 more years? so he wants to keep it. he's sitting on a gold mine . he doesn't want to give it up. i saw a clip of him saying he's going to fight this. he's not going to bow out gracefully. he's not going to offer a public apology and say he's sorry for what he did. he is who he is and who he has always been. when he settled the discrimination case back in 2003 , he didn't apologizapologize. it was the biggest case in l.a. history to $2.7 million. him and his wife. i don't know why they don't put his wife with him. they were both in the discrimination case.

>> his wife is not banned.

>> right. he didn't apologize anything. he said this is not an admission of guilt. that is just the type of character he has. he is a proud racist.

>> mr. thomas, when you were in the league, did you experience this kind of culture of exploitation? is it bigger than just this one individual?

>> i think what -- what donald sterling remits presents is a bigger issue of society. it's interesting because affirmative action was just turned down again earlier this month. and donald sterling is a perfect example of why we still need affirmative action . becau because donald sterling is not an anomaly. there's a lot of donald sterlings out there in positions of power. he can discriminate against the people he doesn't like. he's symbolic of the college acceptance board that looks at an application and knows that one child comes from an inner city school and knows another one is coming from the suh buburbs and knows they're not getting the equal education but give them the same standardized test as though they're being educated equally.

>> you're saying --

>> it's all a big setup. he is part of -- it's bigger than donald sterling . he's part of a racist system. the prison to pipeline -- the pipeline from school to prison that is -- right now he's representative of the judge who would give a little white kid affluenza and a black kid who does the same crime a prison sentence .

>> what we all felt in response to last week's news, you scratch the surface there's a lot of ugliness underneath. etan thomas , thanks for that.