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Volume 24 No. 132


The NBA on Thursday "launched its bid to oust" banned Clippers Owner Donald Sterling, as the league indicated that a panel of 10 fellow team owners "or their proxies unanimously agreed to proceed 'as expeditiously as possible,'" according to Larry Fine of REUTERS. The decision, reached during a telephone conference call of the NBA BOG's Advisory/Finance Committee, "seemed to indicate a strong base of support among Sterling's fellow owners for his removal, as urged by league Commissioner Adam Silver" (REUTERS, 5/2). In L.A., Mike Bresnahan reports the 10 owners "agreed to talk again next week, though it was not known when the 30 owners would take an official vote to try to oust Sterling" (L.A. TIMES, 5/2). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Massarella, Smith, Golding & Kumari cited a source as saying that Sterling is "suffering from prostate cancer." Sources added that he has "been phoning friends for support" in the wake of the scandal. Sources said that Sterling "was in negotiations to chat" with ABC's Barbara Walters for a "20/20" interview (N.Y. POST, 5/2). Clippers F Blake Griffin said of Sterling's reported cancer, "If that is true, my thoughts and prayers are with him. Nobody deserves to go through something like that." NBPA President and Clippers G Chris Paul: "That’s truly unfortunate" (L.A. TIMES, 5/2).

STERLING'S STRATEGY: In L.A., Rainey, Fenno & Turner in a front-page piece note Sterling "remains mostly out of sight" in the wake of the scandal. A source said it is "way too early for him [to be] an eager or willing seller. He'll make the NBA go through the process, whatever it is. Then he'll make whatever decision he's going to make." Still, others who know him believe that he "may bow to a simple truth: that his team has reached a peak value and that his association with it is only likely to drive that value down" (L.A. TIMES, 5/2). USA TODAY's Brent Schrotenboer writes Sterling "might have one last act of horror in store for the NBA." In a "nightmare scenario," Sterling could "fight to keep his family's ownership of the team, dragging out his case and creating a problem for the league next season if players decide they won't work for a team owned by Sterling" (USA TODAY, 5/2). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes under the header, "Little Recourse For Sterling," and lists some of the questions surrounding the situation (N.Y. TIMES, 5/2).

INVASION OF PRIVACY? A SEATTLE TIMES editorial states people can argue that Sterling "can say what he wants, but the owners can choose with whom they will associate" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/2). In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw wonders whether Heat F LeBron James, Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan and others really "plan to be held accountable for every private conversation that might find its way onto someone's cellphone recorder?" Cowlishaw: "What if it’s someone delivering an off-color or sexist joke, then having to defend that it was merely a joke and not a true reflection of his feelings?" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/2). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes Sterling's rights to privacy "were basically ignored in the public’s quest to condemn him." Gleason: "Can you imagine if your private conversations were available for the public shredder?" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/2). In Chicago, Rick Telander writes the NBA "might have some stormy times ahead," as the "backlash from Sterling could be a troubling one" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/2). Basketball HOFer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an op-ed for TIME magazine wrote Sterling "was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing." Abdul-Jabbar: "It was public record. We did nothing. ... Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media?" (, 4/28).

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: StubHub President Chris Tsakalakis said ticket sales for the Warriors-Clippers first-round playoff series are "doing really well," and it has been "one of our hottest in the NBA playoffs." He notes Game 5, which took place at Staples Center just hours after the NBA banned Clippers Owner Donald Sterling for life was "one of our hottest games ever in the NBA playoffs." Tsakalakis noted ticket sales were a "concern" for StubHub had Sterling not been punished by the NBA following his racist comments ("After The Bell," Fox Business, 5/1)....In N.Y., Christian Red noted Sterling "has donated millions of dollars to a wide range of charities over the years." Red provides a look at how some of these organizations "have responded in the wake of his racist comments," including UCLA returning a $425,00 initial payment of a planned $3M donation (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/2)....In Boston, Chad Finn writes he is not sure TNT's "Inside the NBA" has "ever been better than it was this week" in the aftermath of Sterling's audiotape being released (Saturday) and then Silver's press conference announcing the Sterling's punishment (Tuesday). Finn writes if there "were negatives or missteps in sports television’s coverage of this story," he "must have missed them while tuned in to a channel that was getting it exactly right." It "wasn’t just TNT that had many poignant and on-point discussions regarding the effects of Sterling’s words and actions through the years." ESPN and NBA TV "were both exceptional in their coverage, every day" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/2).

The Chiefs have “joined a trend throughout the NFL, as well as franchises in other major pro sports leagues, by instituting variable pricing for single-game tickets” for the ‘14 season, according to Randy Covitz of the K.C. STAR. It will “cost more for fans on a single-game basis to see marquee opponents” such as the Patriots and Broncos. The less-expensive tickets “will be for the mid- to late December games” against the Raiders and Chargers, when “weather is a factor and advance sales tend to be weaker.” No tickets, including those for the two preseason games, will “drop below what the club has established as the single-game ticket price for each game.” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said that the Chiefs went to variable pricing after conducting an eight-month study of how other leagues and teams “implemented such pricing for their games and how prices fluctuate on the secondary market.” Donovan said that feedback from fans was "important in the decision." Covitz notes “the most expensive seats available on a single-game basis” at Arrowhead Stadium will be Sideline Select tickets on the club level (K.C. STAR, 5/2).

New York Private Bank & Turst Chair, President & CEO Howard Milstein, a billionaire who has "vast real estate holdings in New York," is the latest individual to announce an interest in buying the Bills, according to Scott Brown of Buffalo-based WGRZ-NBC. A source said that if Milstein's bid is "successful, he would 'definitely' keep the team in Western New York." He previously bid on the Browns "when they were an expansion team" and the Redskins "when they were up for sale in the late" '90s. Milstein was a co-owner of the Islanders from '98-'00 before the team was sold to Charles Wang. The source said that Milstein will talk with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo "in the near future about his interest in the Bills." Another source said that Milstein would "finance his bid for the Bills totally on his own without any partners" (, 5/1). Erie County Deputy Exec Richard Tobe has said that he has been "approached by as many as 10 groups interested in the Bills." The AP's John Wawrow noted Milstein "controls an undeveloped 142-acre plot of land in downtown Niagara Falls that has been mentioned as a potential site for a new Bills stadium." However, Milstein's tenure with the Islanders was "filled with controversy over the conditions" of Nassau Coliseum. Ownership also "alienated the fan base by threatening to move the Islanders and openly discussing having the team play some home games in other arenas." Meanwhile, Milstein in '99 "withdrew a bid to purchase the Redskins after failing to get support from a majority of NFL owners." Some owners said that he was "using too much borrowed money to finance the deal" (AP, 5/1).

The number of tickets sold at Yankee Stadium through 13 home dates is up nearly 10% "from the same point a year ago," with an average of 41,418, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. YES Network is "having an even stronger rebound from a desultory 2013." Games on YES so far have "attracted an average of 341,000 viewers," which is up 38%. The Yankees during the offseason added P Masahiro Tanaka, who is 3-0 in his rookie season. The longer the unbeaten streak goes, the "more buzz he will create for the team and the more he will presumably help ratings and attendance on the days he pitches." Also, if Yankees SS Derek Jeter "stays healthy and plays reasonably well, his final season before retirement is likely to be a magnet for fans." Meanwhile, the Mets have "a more mixed picture." Ticket sales "are up, but, in somewhat contradictory fashion, their TV ratings are down, even though the team had gotten off to a surprising 15-11 start." The number of Mets tickets sold through 16 dates is up 3.4% to 27,058 a game, "a nice lift after a steady decline in attendance since the team moved into Citi Field" in '09. Still, the number of viewers on SNY "has fallen" 4% to 180,000 a game."The drop in ratings on SNY "suggests how much work the Mets still have to do to get all of their fans on board again" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/2).