I guess the “breaking news” of the day is that the NBA announced that the sale of the LA Clippers to Steve Ballmer closed yesterday. Donald Sterling no longer owns the team but he continues to sue the NBA over the forced sale; not surprisingly, the NBA has counter-sued Sterling claiming that his actions have caused significant damage to the league. Let me put the pending legal actions in perspective from a layman’s point of view:
Neither party has much acreage on the high ground it has tried to stake out for itself.
Given that the sale of the team is completed, neither lawsuit matters a whole lot – except to the lawyers who are accumulating billable hours.
These proceedings are about as interesting as the content of the sure-to-be forthcoming book by V. Stiviano where she lets readers in on her worldview.
When Steve Ballmer’s offer to buy the Clippers for $2B was first in the news, Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot scoped out an important angle to this whole saga:
“In passing Ballmer should meet with the approval of NBA commissioner Adam Silver if their matching haircuts are any indication.”
The accident that took Kevin Ward’s life on a dirt-track race over the weekend is a tragedy and I guess the outpouring of emotional response to that event is to be expected. However, the emotion and the speculation about Tony Stewart’s “road rage” and references to his “volatile history” mask the heart of the matter here:
A young man – age 21 – is dead.
He is dead because he confronted a moving motor vehicle.
Pedestrians – and bicycle riders too – are longshots to survive such confrontations on racetracks or on city streets.
Rest in peace, Kevin Ward…
Dan LeBatard writes an occasional column for the Miami Herald and does a radio and TV show for ESPN 5 days a week. Recently, he got a 2-day suspension from his show for a publicity stunt he pulled off. He had tried to place an ad in the Akron and Cleveland papers showing a picture of two NBA Championship Rings with the caption:
“You’re Welcome, LeBron.
The papers refused the ad – I thought newspapers needed to boost ad revenues these days – saying that people in Ohio might not like it. So, LeBatard went out and put the message on a billboard in Akron, Ohio. Evidently, the suits at ESPN were not amused and he got the 2-day suspension.
Lots of folks have over-reacted to this on either side of the argument. For the record:
No one has infringed Dan LeBatard’s freedom of expression here. His rights have not been violated.
The newspapers are absolutely correct to turn down advertising that they believe might be offensive to readers.
ESPN as an employer needs to set standards of acceptable behavior for its employees.
Having said all that, ESPN seems to have over-reacted here. [Aside: Perhaps after criticizing Roger Goodell so vehemently for “under-punishing” Ray Rice they felt the need to drop the hammer on one of their “miscreants”?] Let me look at this situation from afar and with no dog in the fight:
Dan LeBatard is paid to be controversial. He does not fill hours of radio and TV time by airing the sports equivalent of “Hearts and Flowers”.
When you hire someone to be controversial – or edgy –, you get controversial and/or edgy. For example, it you hire Howard Stern to fill 4 hours a day of time on your radio station, you cannot be shocked and amazed when he makes a gratuitous reference to his penis. That is what he does; you knew that when you hired him.
LeBatard ought to have known he was on thin ice after his previous stunt where he sold his Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot to Deadspin and allowed fans there to vote as to how he should fill it out. Again, it was an edgy stunt and it was not universally well received; he needs to look at things like that in perspective.
In the end, this was a joke or a stunt if you will; it does not come close to blasphemy. No one was harmed; in fact, the only way to imagine someone being harmed would be if the person putting up the billboard ad had fallen off the platform. A suspension over a silly joke seems a bit much to me.
Finally, words of wisdom from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle:
“When Michael Phelps returned to competitive swimming, the sport of golf lost a great victim.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………