In a week where the Washington Football Club/Racist Nickname asked the Washington Post to rename a sports news blog that covers the team and you also have Jerry Jones trying to intimidate the union in negotiations which lead them to decertify and sue the league, you would think the NFL would be a lock for bad owner of the week award. Not even close as the NBA trumps them all with not only a worse owner but a commissioner that allows it.
Dan Snyder (while amassing billions) just comes across as incompetent. Donald Sterling and his chief enabler, David Stern come across as worse. Here is how Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski sees it.
Stern has long preached that coaches are too expensive, scouts too plentiful and perhaps no one has heeded the commissionerâ€™s words like the Los Angeles Clippersâ€™ owner. He has a history of hiring them cheap, and refusing to honor contracts. The NBA has a history of letting it go without protests.
Yes, Sternâ€™s silence and inaction on Sterlingâ€™s despicable behavior has to be considered as some level of approval. Now, Kim Hughes tells the story to the Racine (Wis.) Journal-Times about how Sterling didnâ€™t pay for his prostate cancer surgery as a Clippers assistant coach several years ago. Clippers players contributed much of the $70,000 needed to take care of the costs that werenâ€™t covered by Hughesâ€™ medical insurance.
And once Sterling fires those coaches and scouts, he often stops paying the balance of their contracts. He dares them to sue. Some can, and do. Some canâ€™t afford the legal fight and end up settling for pennies on the dollar.
This happened with scouts Scott Wissel and Jerry Holloway a year ago. They made less than six figures a year, and the Clippers simply stopped paying them. Essentially, Sterling was telling them, â€œThe seasonâ€™s over, and so what if your deal runs October to October. Itâ€™s April, get lost and we arenâ€™t paying you.â€
Eventually, Holloway won a settlement, and Wissel had to fight more than a year to get part of his money. Where was the league office? Where was Sternâ€™s indignity?
Then Stern goes off on Stan Van Gundy who is trying to figure out why his star player gets fowled 593 times this year. Stern uses this as an excuse to chastise Van Gundy and publically humiliate him
Off to Sternâ€™s Siberia. Stern wouldnâ€™t stop there, because he gets such a charge out of humiliating those under him. Taunted Stern, â€œI see somebody whose team isnâ€™t performing, whose star player was suspended, who seems to be fraying.â€
No commissioner has ever been so emboldened to speak this way. Yet now, so much of Sternâ€™s staying power is built on a far more flimsy baseline. Respect has eroded for him, replaced with fear and loathing.
â€œItâ€™s a divisionary tactic to take away from the 593 fouls without a flagrant,â€ one long-time league executive said of Sternâ€™s rant on Van Gundy. â€œThe question is: Do you have to be mean and a bully to be a commissioner? As heâ€™s gotten older, he has become more mean-spirited, and it shows in how he deals with his own staff, coaches and with the new-age owners.â€
When Stern goes to Orlandoâ€™s ownership group, he knows itâ€™ll soon be wondering how much of an impact Van Gundyâ€™s mouth will have on Howard and the Magic in the playoffs. Teams tremble over retribution from Stern and fear it in the form of officiating.
Big and small markets. Winning and losing franchises. Great and lousy general managers and coaches. Old and new owners. They all agree: Donâ€™t push Stern too hard because there will be a price to pay. Better off bowing, kissing the ring and shuffling past him.
In case you havenâ€™t heard of Donald Sterling before, here are just some of the recent stories. The recent stories about him grow more horrifying with each new revelation but donâ€™t worry, there are a variety of stories from the past that seem to confirm an ongoing pattern and yet this man is allowed to own a NBA team when no other league on the continent would find his actions permissible. Well done NBA, well done.