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The Almighty Buck News

The Ethics Cloud Over Ballmer's $2 Billion B-Ball Buy 398

Posted by samzenpus
from the dirty-money dept.
theodp (442580) writes '"It is hard to imagine any more heinous way of earning money than by benefiting from racism," writes Rick Cohen, who argues that Donald Sterling and the NBA owners are being unjustly enriched by Sterling's racism, which led to the $2 billion sale of the L.A. Clippers to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, a record-high sum for an NBA team. "Indeed, the only losers in the Sterling affair are the players," adds the NY Times. "What held promise as a possible D-Day in the N.B.A., a day when N.B.A. owners stood up to be counted and voted Donald Sterling out of the league, instead turned into a great day for the status quo." Forbes contributor Robert Wood speculates that if he plays his cards right, Sterling's windfall could be tax-free.'
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The Ethics Cloud Over Ballmer's $2 Billion B-Ball Buy

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  • pishaw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:11AM (#47178237)

    Ethics? Ethics in the corporate world is what gets you the most cash. The corporate assholes live in a scruple-free culture.

    • by B33rNinj4 (666756)
      I don't know why you were down-voted, because this is pretty much 100% accurate.
    • Re:pishaw (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:20AM (#47178675) Homepage Journal

      Ethics on Slashdot? No one questions that someone was banned for life and was forced to forfeit his property because of something he said in a private conversation that was recorded and published without his permission.

      If you are not outraged by this then please do not bother ever complaining about privacy.

      Remember racism is not illegal. Discrimination based on race in the workplace is.

      BTW I do not like racism at all but this is just too weird for words.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Forfeit? Nope. He's getting paid for it. TFA and TFS even say so.

      • Re:pishaw (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:50AM (#47178929) Journal

        A private association had rules governing the association, and one of those members broke one of the rules*. Hence, he was kicked to the curb. No laws are alleged by any part to have been violated.

        *He broke the rule that said he wouldn't do or say anything to harm the league financially. Its very broad rule for a reason. This reason.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          And was the league harmed?
          Also do you think that any owner can pass that rule if you looked at all their private conversations?

      • by sribe (304414)

        No one questions that someone was banned for life and was forced to forfeit his property because of something he said in a private conversation that was recorded and published without his permission.

        Which is a gross distortion. Had he kept quiet and let that storm pass, he might have gotten to keep the team. (Based on what other owners have said, not just my idle speculation.) But then he had to "defend" himself by having a racist rant on national TV.

      • by thoth (7907)

        No one questions that someone was banned for life and was forced to forfeit his property because of something he said in a private conversation that was recorded and published without his permission

        So? Isn't this just a bigger private corporation/business interest (the NBA) enforcing their rights to include/exclude whoever they damn well please? And in this case they decided to boot him from their little club? What property did he "forfeit" by the way? He didn't lose anything - he SOLD his property on the m

        • by Jiro (131519)

          You know nothing about libertarians.

          Libertarians believe it should be legal to a lot of things that leftists don't like, including kicking someone out for bad reasons. However, this does not mean that doing so should not be subject to moral condemnation. Unless you have an example of libertarians saying that what the NBA did should be made illegal, you have no valid criticism.

          What property did he "forfeit" by the way? He didn't lose anything - he SOLD his property on the market for $2.2 billion.

          He lost th

      • If you prefer to live in a state that requires two-party consent to record [wikipedia.org], be my guest.

        Just don't ever complain if a police officer ever takes away your camera as they're beating you senseless. (In other words, when an injustice is being committed, you cannot expect the unjust to permit their acts to be made public. One-party consent states doesn't have this issue.)

      • Remember racism is not illegal. Discrimination based on race in the workplace is.

        Thoughtcrime is currently not illegal, but they (the media + the powers that be) are trying their damned hardest to make it so.

        Remember that guy, Harvard University President or something, he was caught saying "maybe we shouldn't be so obsessed with pushing more women into math/science, after all women on average show less aptitude in those fields". He was vilified in the media as being worse than the Devil and Hitler combined. He was fired like the next day. All for saying what pretty much every average Jo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:12AM (#47178247)

    Is it that he's being paid a market price for his team? How could it have been otherwise?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:17AM (#47178287)

      He has an opinion that liberals don't like so they think that they should be able to take his property from him without providing compensation.

      • by LordKronos (470910) on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:56AM (#47178525) Homepage

        Exactly. I don't get all of the talk about how this is a reward. He could have sold the team at any time of his choosing. The price he got isn't because of his racist remarks. It's because there are so few teams available, they don't often come up for sale, and as teams go, the Clippers is actually a pretty highly ranked team. If anything, forcing him to sell actually is a punishment, even at $2 billion. He bought the team for $12.5m 33 years ago. Now it's worth $2b. That works out to an average annual return of almost 17%. It's virtually impossible to find an investment that gives those sort of returns over the long term. When you actually do have one, you'd want to hold onto it as long as possible (unless you have reason to believe its value is about to tank). Forcing him to sell such a fast growing asset is indeed punishment.

        • Right, Ballmer is expected to make back his investment within a year, with new TV contracts expected to be a minimum of $3B, possibly reaching $7B, any of those far exceeding the operating costs. The competition is high in LA which is why he probably won't move the team to Seattle, at least until the upcoming contacts expire in several years.

        • by quantaman (517394)

          More to the point he's 80 (and possibly suffering from dementia).

          It's not like he can take the $2 billion and buy another team with it, the money might not mean anything to him at this point.

      • by hey! (33014)

        Apparently you're under the delusion that just *liberals* don't like Sterling's opinions.

    • Is it that he's being paid a market price for his team? How could it have been otherwise?

      Well, technically you are correct, but the problem is that before this sale, only the Chicago Bulls ($1 billion) and the Los Angeles Lakers ($1.3 billion), were valued at even one billion US dollars among NBA teams. Basically what we have is a bunch of billionaires who for no good reason got into a bidding war on a team that has never even played for a championship, let alone won one, and the "winner" was the guy who was willing to badly overpay the most. Right now it's difficult to understand how this de

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:13AM (#47178255)

    Here's Slashdot cheering the thought police. The man was baited into saying something in a private phone call. Where are our privacy champions now? What a bunch of frauds. We cheer Snowden because the media tells us to, but then champion spying on someone because the media tells us to.

    • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:42AM (#47178437)

      Yeah, but privacy and free speech and all that only applies if you're saying politically-correct stuff. The second you say "nigger" or even mildly criticize some protected group YOU MUST BE DESTROYED!!!!!

      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        or Feminists

        [John]

      • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:47AM (#47178905) Journal

        Privacy and free speech apply to government entities, not to ex girlfriends and basketball associations.

        Privacy means that what you do with another person should remain between you two, so long as both of you keep it as such

        . All bets are off when one of the individuals involved in the private activity decide to disclose what happened. The moral here is to better choose who you decide to associate with in private.

        Free speech doesn't mean that you can say anything you want without consequence - it means that the government cannot be the one to bring about those consequences. Public shaming and ostracization are perfectly OK. In this case, it also happens that the statements ran afoul of NBA policy, which Sterling agreed to when be purchased the team in the first place.

        Sterling isn't serving any jail time, and he's getting a giant return on investment. I don't see why the right is to up in arms over the outcome. Sterling probably got more money for the sale of the team now (due to the expediency everyone else felt to buy the team out from under him) than he probably would have putting it up for sale on his own before the controversy.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by NotDrWho (3543773)

          Privacy and free speech apply to government entities, not to ex girlfriends and basketball associations.

          So I guess you'd be cool with it if the NBA choose to enact a "No Homosexual Players Allowed" policy? After all, they're a private organization and don't have to respect anyone's legal rights, right?

          • So I guess you'd be cool with it if the NBA choose to enact a "No Homosexual Players Allowed" policy? After all, they're a private organization and don't have to respect anyone's legal rights, right?

            Actually, as a private organization, it would be up to them to decide whether to disallow openly gay players and / or owners. Perspective owners and players would need to know of such a rule (and fans would want to know about it, too). Those who don't agree with such a stance would be free to not participate in nor support such an organization. No one's legal rights would be trampled.

            As per homosexual players, I think their teammates should have the strongest word, considering that most locker rooms don't h

      • by SensitiveMale (155605) on Friday June 06, 2014 @11:34AM (#47179913)

        Yeah, but privacy and free speech and all that only applies if you're saying politically-correct stuff. The second you say "nigger" or even mildly criticize some protected group YOU MUST BE DESTROYED!!!!!

        That's the odd thing. Sterling didn't even use a slur.From what I understood of the tape, he didn't even have a problem with minorities. He told his girlfriend that she could sleep with anyone she wanted. Again, no slurs. Just don't brag about her boyfriends on Instragram or bring them to the game in public.

        He didn't tell his ticket sellers not to sell to minorities. He didn't use any slurs. He employed, from what I understand was a general consensus, the worst GM in the NBA for over 20 years who happened to be a minority. He hired a minority coach.

        He was illegally recorded and punished for something he said in the privacy of his own home, not for something he did. Not to mention he was goaded. Listen to the tape. She knew what she wanted him to say and she kept at it until he said it.

        This is very scary stuff because there isn't one person alive who wouldn't be ostracized, using this ruler, if a select one minute of their private speech was made public.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:59AM (#47178557)

      > Here's Slashdot cheering the thought police. The man was baited into saying something in a private phone call. Where are our privacy champions now?

      It wasn't a phone call, it was in person. But, while the recording was what brought his bigotry to public attention, what really matters are all his other public actions, like refusing to rent apartments to blacks and hispanics. It was only a matter of time before all his shit caught up with him.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-sterling-racist-history-2014-4

    • by Triklyn (2455072)

      not all of us... the most troubling aspects of the sterling case to me, has always been it's issues regarding "court of public opinion", confiscation of property, and privacy. I'm a damn liberal, but civil liberties are more important than that.

      I say if sterling makes a windfall from this, it's karmic punishment for people thinking it's a good idea for him to be done so for why he was. Force him out for racism? only when he's caught DOING something racist. not just saying it at home.

      • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:39AM (#47178829)
        The definition of "ownership" when it comes to sports franchises varies, but basically Sterling doesn't own anything. According to the NBA's constitution, he doesn't even really own so much as the name - if the NBA terminates his ownership, the NBA immediately takes over the team and all its' assets (and has to provide the market value from the sale or liquidation of those assets). The NBA is structured more like a club, where when you join, you get a name under which you can conduct business, and have to share a bit of the profit with the club, and have to follow an extremely detailed set of rules on how to conduct that business.
        • by omnichad (1198475)

          Are the player contracts with his business or with the NBA directly? I'd say that the players' exclusive contracts probably have more value than the name.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What happened to Sterling is the exact same thing as someone going into your house, reading your diary, and then getting offended at the content. And then trying to get you fired from your job over it.

  • Wut?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:15AM (#47178275)

    What an incredibly stupid thing to post on Slashdot. the ONLY link to technology is Ballmer's name.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      Meh. The site changed from the implied "news for nerds who got beat up in school" to "news for anyone who geeks out about something" a while ago. I don't know why we don't see news about Electric Motorcycles.

      [John]

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:15AM (#47178277) Homepage Journal
    that no matter what, ** SOMEONE ** is gonna bitch about ** SOMETHING ** no matter what happened. Can't please all the people all the time.
    • by NotDrWho (3543773)

      In the age of the internet, bitching has become the number one export of western civilization.

  • nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot@ m 0 m 0.org> on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:19AM (#47178299)

    Sterling never did anything illegal, he was just an old biggoted man. There exists no punishment society can inflict on him beyond personal actions like boycotting or just not liking him... So what gives? Why do people think that he can be robbed of an asset for being a biggot?

    He has first amendment protections to be as big of a douchebag as he wants. His privacy was violated by his mistress and he was doing nothing illegal. The NBA has no grounds to force him out or deny him profit from the sale of an asset he shouldn't be forced to sell.

    • Re:nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302) on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:40AM (#47178429)

      Isn't `bring the game into disrepute` a reason? It's their rules...they can have any clause they like. He might not mind not caring what people think of his outdated mentality, but the sport suffers if people boycott it, or if it's embarrassing to have to admit you are involved with it, if for no other reason.

      • Sure they can, in the same way he can have his huge profit and end in the top of all this shit. Even though the thought police out there would want to have his head in a stake for thinking forbidden thoughts.

        Progressivism is the current mainstream religion and we are getting closer and closer to the Holy Inquisition way of doing things.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Illegality only applies to what the government can do to him.
      What the NBA can do to him is a matter of contract law.

      But what society can do to him is pretty much arbitrary. This is all about society's judgment of him and that's fair - the value of the team is 100% a function of public approval. You didn't hear him complaining when public approval resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of income for him so, live by the sword die by the sword.

    • This.Banning him and thus forcing him to sell the team removes his involvement and future ability to profit from the team, and therefore the incentive for a boycott. Problem solved, move along...

    • Sterling never did anything illegal, he was just an old biggoted man. There exists no punishment society can inflict on him beyond personal actions like boycotting or just not liking him... So what gives? Why do people think that he can be robbed of an asset for being a biggot?

      He has first amendment protections to be as big of a douchebag as he wants. His privacy was violated by his mistress and he was doing nothing illegal. The NBA has no grounds to force him out or deny him profit from the sale of an asset he shouldn't be forced to sell.

      Actually, since the agreement between Sterling and the NBA is a private contractual one they are within their rights to do whatever is contractually permitted. How society views him and actions that take are separate from the agreement he has with the NBA.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      The first amendment is irrelevant in this case as it's the NBA's rules he violated. You can argue it violates free speech on broader grounds but that's not synonymous with the first amendment.

      I agree that the punishment exceeds the crime, but I also think there wasn't a lot of choice. You can't have someone who holds and repeatedly espouses racist views own a basketball team comprising largely of black people. Before he said anything it could be kept under the rug, but now his view are public everyone knows

  • Disable Advertising? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:39AM (#47178417)

    More like "Ignore my checkbox to Disable Advertising". I'm still seeing banners at the top of the content and at the top of the right column.

    • Mobile Safari gets banners at the top and obnoxious floaters at the bottom. On iPhone the floater often goes off the side and doesn't zoom right, making the dumb "hide" button hard/impossible to get at.

      It's better than Beta, but not much.

  • Think harder Rick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PsyMan (2702529) on Friday June 06, 2014 @08:39AM (#47178423)
    '"It is hard to imagine any more heinous way of earning money than by benefiting from racism," ... Well, lets think, you could run a child prostitution ring, child slavery, people trafficking, run a pharmacutical firm/country that denies poorer people medicine or be a banker. Not hard to imagine at all. (not sure what the rest of the summary was about as I did not read it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Also, I don't think he's "earning money than by benefiting from racism" (I realize that doesn't make grammatical sense). He's earning money off a basketball team which is comprised mostly (completely?) of black men while at the same time being a racist. He's actually making money because the majority of the operation isn't racist and has the best players it can get, who happen to be black. Making money from racism would be more akin to owning a golf course, and having a bunch of black caddies and paying th
      • by MitchDev (2526834)

        No kidding.

        Grow some spine and some thicker skin America, you're turning into the wimps of the "free" world...

      • buh buh, if the team (and every other team in the entire NBA) is comprised almost entirely of black players, then the we need some kind of investigation on diversity, and how the NBA can make itself a more tolerant, and diverse organization.

        We're sending a strong message to young white, asian, and hispanic children that they cannot be professional athletes, and in 2014 that's a travesty. I thought we were past this as a society.

        If Jackson can do this to to Google, then perhaps in the interest of fairness th

  • ...that Sterling would be laughing all the way to the bank on this one, I'm happy for him.

    The First Amendment may not apply to corporations (when it should apply to all that do business within the US), too bad he didn't get even more than 2 billion for the team...

  • Will someone please think of the poor millionaire ball players? It's just not fair!
  • Looks like spending $425k on lobbying to defeat the WA State income tax may have helped Ballmer save nearly $200 million on this $2B deal: Income Tax Quashed, Ballmer To Cash In Billions [slashdot.org]

  • by AgentSmith (69695) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:13AM (#47178635)

    He spent 2.2 Billion just to have the opportunity to throw chairs in public again?

    There are many things you can buy for 2.2 Billion. This is one of them.

  • The signatures on the letter reads like a who's who of ISP industry presidents and CEOs, including AT&T's Randall Stephenson, Cox Communications' Patrick Esser, NCTA president (and former FCC commissioner) Michael Powell, Verizon's Lowell McAdam, and Comcast's Brian Roberts.

    Case closed, we all know they know what's best for us, right?

  • I know slashdot loves to hate on the rich and all, but lets have some facts here.

    This entire gripe seems to be based on the premise that he's filed as an "S Corporation" and therefor "It's not taxed! OMG!"

    Well, that's not accurate.
    From Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]

    In general, S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation's income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

    He'll be paying taxes. It's just a matter of how and when.

    Then there's the argument that he may win $1billion from the NBA during a lawsuit. Well good. This is the united states. He should be able to say what he wants no matter how stupid and offensive it is, then

  • by sribe (304414) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:48AM (#47178917)

    I just RTFA. Even though some of the techniques the author speculates go beyond questionable into the realm of "no fucking way could he get away with that" (claiming a forced sale, claiming a loss), NONE of them actually eliminates taxes on his gain. They change the amount; they shuffle the timing around; but again NONE of them results in a "tax-free" windfall.

    • With the long term capital gains tax rate at 15%, I'd just pay the tax. Odds are that rate is going back up at some point in the not too distant future.

  • He merely liquidated assets he already owned that were worth that much.

  • "Section 1033 of the tax code allows you to defer taxes when your property is taken involuntarily, like eminent domain. Mr. Sterling can argue the Clippers sale was forced on him by the NBA."

    So who wants to bet Donald Tokowitz and his accountants planned this from the start?

    • by sribe (304414)

      Section 1033 of the tax code allows you to defer taxes when your property is taken involuntarily, like eminent domain. Mr. Sterling can argue the Clippers sale was forced on him by the NBA.

      But it would, with 100% certainly, be a losing argument. There is no way that beginning to prepare to take the actions necessary to force the sale would count as forcing the sale. He sold voluntarily, in a situation where he had multiple buyers competing, with multiple offers way higher than what the value of the team had been believed to be.

  • thought that Ballmer reeked of Ethics?

  • Obviously the old creep issued some really nasty remarks and the NBA really doesn't need owners that degrade the climate of the sport. Conversely we very well have an elderly man who is more or less in the throes of dementia. Questions such as how does the Americans With Disabilities Act pertain to unfortunate or ugly remarks by an afflicted person may be relevant. Beyond that is the glaring issue of forcing his wife to sell as well. After all, she is an individual, and deserves the full protection
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday June 06, 2014 @10:47AM (#47179449) Homepage Journal

    But Sterling got rich as a personal injury lawyer, and then mega-rich as a slum lord. He's the one man in America *everybody* can despise. Ballmer has actually found a situation where he can step in and people will heave a sign of relief.

    Well played, sir. Well played.

  • by Dishwasha (125561) on Friday June 06, 2014 @12:03PM (#47180241)

    '"It is hard to imagine any more heinous way of earning money than by benefiting from racism," writes Rick Cohen

    I guess Rick Cohen has never been to or heard of a donkey show.

  • by voidstin (51561) on Friday June 06, 2014 @01:06PM (#47180891)
    The NBA is a private association with it's own governing charter. It's a billionaires club. If all of the other members of the club hate you because you have a LONG HISTORY of being a total racist, cheapskate, and litigious dick, it is within their right to throw you out. Additionally, his wife had him declared incompetent, so legality is even less of an issue. As for the "baiting", even if we ignore his long history of bad behavior, he insulted Magic Johnson - one of the greatest players of all time, and the guy who's statue he walks by every time he enters the Staples Center - IN HIS APOLOGY. Yes, he said he was a bad influence him for HAVING HIV. Yes he said he could be "doing more" for the community - the guy who opened hundreds of new businesses in black neighborhoods across LA. Oh, and that apology took him a week, and in the meantime, he said he should have just "paid her off". Also, BOTH teams (including his own) were going to refuse to play (in the playoffs) if the commissioner didn't act. NO ONE liked him, not even those who worked for him. If you want to talk about freedom, how about the freedom to not have to deal with this jerk? I believe they always had the legal authority to kick him out, but his history of litigious dickishness would have cost them billions in legal fees and bad PR. Carpe Diem. And Ballmer (not famous for his likability) will be a HUGE upgrade.

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