Adam Silver held a press conference to tell of Donald Sterling's banishment from future games, meetings, etc. around The Clippers organization. He also said Sterling would be "encouraged" to sell the team.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference to tell of Donald Sterling’s banishment from future games, meetings, etc. around The Clippers organization. He also said Sterling would be “encouraged” to sell the team.

*A close examination of the NBA’s bylaws raises serious questions about whether the NBA has the legal authority to strip Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers and force a sale of the franchise.

Indeed, when you examine all of the relevant bylaws relating to termination of a franchise interest, attorney Clay Travis says he doesn’t believe the NBA has the legal authority to take away Sterling’s team and force the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise.

He shows us why.

couple of days ago the NBA posted its bylaws on the official league website.

Below is Article 13 of the NBA’s bylaws in full, the provision of the league’s rules that deals with termination of an owner’s interest.

There are ten specifically enumerated provisions that can justify the NBA terminating an owner’s interest. 

Here they are:

ARTICLE 13

TERMINATION OF OWNERSHIP OR MEMBERSHIP

The Membership of a Member or the interest of any Owner may be terminated by a vote of three fourths (3/4) of the Board of Governors if the Member or Owner shall do or suffer any of the following:

(a) Willfully violate any of the provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws, resolutions, or agreements of the Association.

(b) Transfer or attempt to transfer a Membership or an interest in a Member without complying with the provisions of Article 5.

(c) Fail to pay any dues or other indebtedness owing to the Association within thirty (30) days after Written Notice from the Commissioner of default in such payment.

(d) Fail or refuse to fulfill its contractual obligations to the Association, its Members, Players, or any other third party in such a way as to affect the Association or its Members adversely.

(e) Wager or countenance wagering by its officers or employees on any game in which a Team operated by a Member of the Association participates.

(f) Willfully permit open betting, pool selling, or any other form of gambling upon any premises owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the Member or an Owner, except, subject to Article 8(a), for gambling activities that are lawful in the applicable jurisdiction and do not involve in any way, directly or indirectly, gambling with respect to any aspect of the Association’s games, events, property, players, or other personnel.

(g) Offer, agree, conspire, or attempt to lose or control the score of any game participated in by a Team operated by a Member of the Association, or fail to suspend immediately any officer or any Player or other employee of the Member who shall be found guilty, in a court of law or in any hearing sanctioned by this Constitution and By- Laws, of offering, agreeing, conspiring, or attempting to lose or control the score of any such game or of being interested in any pool or wager on any game in which a Team operated by a Member of the Association participates.

(h) Disband its Team during the Season, dissolve its business, or cease its operation.

(i) Willfully fail to present its Team at the time and place it is scheduled to play in an Exhibition, Regular Season, or Playoff Game.

(j) Willfully misrepresent any material fact contained in its application for Membership in the Association.

On its face eight of these provisions don’t apply here — so let’s toss out b, c, e, f, g, h, i, and j as legal rationales to justify the league taking away Sterling’s ownership interests.

So that leaves only two possible ways for the NBA to take Sterling’s team, prong A or prong D.

Let’s examine both:

Here’s Prong A, again, (I have added the bold.)

(a) Willfully violate any of the provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws, resolutions, or agreements of the Association.

Sterling hasn’t “willfully” violated anything. “Willfully,” means there is an intent requirement embedded into this prong. That is, the NBA wanted to ensure a measure of intentional undertaking behind the actions. That’s why the word “willfully” begins four of these ten prongs. Sterling didn’t willfully broadcast these statements. He was secretly taped in a private residence engaged in a conversation with one other person. Then that tape was leaked to TMZ without his involvement or consent. Regardless of how inappropriate the NBA might find his comments, it’s fair to say that they were in no way intended to be official comments that were made to willfully violate NBA rules and regulations.

Travis says he can’t imagine any judge in America finding that Sterling willfully violated any NBA directive via a secret taping in a private residence. So prong A is out the window as well.

Here’s Prong D, once more I’ve added the bold:

(d) Fail or refuse to fulfill its contractual obligations to the Association, its Members, Players, or any other third party in such a way as to affect the Association or its Members adversely. 

The first half of this prong doesn’t apply at all. The latter half is very tenuous, but I’ve bolded it anyway. This is probably the NBA’s only legal ground under the bylaws to argue that Sterling’s ownership interests can be terminated. Sterling hasn’t violated any contractual obligations to the league, its members or the players — that is, he’s continued to pay these partners and is not in breach of their contracts — but could you argue that Sterling failed to meet his contractual obligations to the Clippers’ sponsors? (Sponsors here would be “any other third party.”)

Maybe.

But this is incredibly tenuous legal standing.

Clay Travis, Attorney and Fox Sports writer

Clay Travis, Attorney and Fox Sports writer

Find out why, and why Travis knows that Adam Silver realizes that his actions, in the long run, may mean very little. Visit Foxsports.com for more.