Why the First Amendment doesn't matter in the Donald Sterling case

After the Donald Sterling lifetime ban was announced, one of the common phrases from the public went something like, "Sterling is a monster, but what about the First Amendment!$*!&!"

As someone who works in the news industry, the First Amendment is very important and is one of the most important amendments made to the Constitution. Thing is, it has no place in the Sterling discussion.

From USA Today:

The NBA not only is relying on its constitution and by-laws to force Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, but also plans to rely on moral and ethical contracts with the league Sterling has signed over the years, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the highly sensitive situation.

Language in those contracts prevent Sterling from expressing views or taking actions that are detrimental to the league, the person said.

See, however you feel about Sterling doesn't matter. He can't say things that hurt the league. Period. He signed papers saying as much when he bought the team and amended versions since. Whether he shouted his racist comments from the rooftops or said them to his alleged lover behind closed doors, you can't unring that bell. I'm pretty sure teams threatening to boycott playoff games is the exact definition of "actions that are detrimental to the league."

Also, Sterling isn't facing criminal charges and no one is swooping in to steal away something Sterling started from scratch and poured his blood, sweat and tears into. He bought the team in the early 1980s and was content to let the team fester as a virtual non-factor in the league for the first several years that he owned it.

Bottom line: Owning an NBA team is a privilege, not a right.

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