Donald Sterling’s lawyer is seeking to use that “slippery slope” that concerned Mark Cuban to help his client keep the Los Angeles Clippers.
Sterling’s 32-page legal response to the NBA questions whether the league is “willing to set a standard that an individual can be punished for voicing a negative opinion,” adding that “such a standard will make short shrift of many players and coaches.”
The document also targets Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos, stating that he “has made highly controversial comments against individuals with HIV/AIDS and generously supports anti-homosexual causes with impunity."
The response later elaborates on DeVos’ publicly stated stances:
An owner donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, which advocates around the nation to legally ban marriage between homosexual couples. LGBT advocacy groups called for a boycott. The NBA took no action despite these threats of a boycott. On the topic of HIV/AIDS, the same owner had this to say in an interview 2010: “When HIV first came out President Reagan formed a commission, and I was honored to be on that commission. I listened to 300 witnesses tell us that it was everybody else’s fault but their own. Nothing to do with their conduct, just that the government didn’t fix this disease. At the end of that I put in the document, it was the conclusion document from the commission, that actions have consequences and you are responsible for yours. AIDS is a disease that people gain because of their actions. It wasn’t like cancer. We all made the exceptions for how you got it, by accident, that was all solved a long time ago. ... That’s when they started hanging me in effigy because I wasn’t sympathetic to all their requests for special treatment. Because at that time it was always someone else’s fault. I said, you are responsible for your actions too, you know. Conduct yourself properly, which is a pretty solid Christian principle.” The NBA similarly took no action.
The question Sterling and his attorney seem to be forcing the league to answer: Where does the line get drawn on discrimination by an NBA owner?