Things will be different for the Clippers next season. Everyone on the team will be a year older, teammates will have to deal with Spencer Hawes demanding to listen to Sean Hannity at max volume in the weight room and of course the Western Conference will offer new challenges. Life will go on without exiled owner Donald Sterling, a medically induced erection sculpted out of expired Milk Duds, and will be much more pleasant for that.
And yet all the important things will be the same: there will be the leadership of Doc Rivers on the sideline, the restless virtuosity of Chris Paul on the court and a nightmarish leatherette bigotry sac with the last name Sterling sitting courtside, generally stinking up the joint with the full vinegary force of their repellence.
In this case, it will be Rochelle Sterling, Donald's estranged wife and longtime partner in discriminatory housing/general bigoted odiousness, who is remaining with the team as a sort of owner emeritus/inoperable non-malignant goiter. She will receive a number of perks and legally-binding superlatives.
Shelly Sterling will still have a large and visible presence with the Clippers after this deal. pic.twitter.com/UKqFVTSPF1— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 12, 2014
Editor's Note: The charitable foundation piece of that tweet is actually untrue, and the story has been changed to reflect that.
If the "owner emeritus" title seems unfamiliar, that is probably because no owner has previously been such a weeping garbage bag full of weapons-grade loathsomeness as to necessitate its creation for his spouse after he was run out of the league amid roaring, universal acclaim. If the "Clipper's Number One Fan" title seems dubious (and questionably punctuated), it is because it is totally specious and also incorrectly punctuated.
We can only hope that unofficial team ambassador Clipper Darrell or longtime Clippers loyalist/current holder of "Dwayne Wayne Emeritus" title Kadeem Hardison takes Sterling to court over the Number One Fan thing. This would be a good development because it's a bummer to think of that title belonging to a woman best known for repeatedly impersonating a government official in order to gain access to the homes of the minority tenants that she and her husband were illegally trying to evict, and because it'd be nice to see Kadeem Hardison again.
As Mike Prada writes, it is not surprising to see Shelly Sterling remain affiliated with the organization in some capacity. Clots of this sort are historically difficult to dislodge, and allowing her to retain her seats and Platinum Shamewad Club VIP passes is, however distasteful, a small price to play for excising the Sterlings in other ways.
Sale to Steve Ballmer is officially complete
It's now official: Donald Sterling is out of the NBA. The league announced that the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer has been finalized.
Mostly, though, it would be nice to see the Sterling stain finally lifted once and for all from the Clippers. The team and its fans suffered in many ways, for many years, from both the Sterlings' neglect and their creepy-crawly attention. Even amid their rancid peer group, the Sterlings have stood out for so long for being so much worse than the rest -- so much more venal, so much smaller-hearted and unshameable and relentlessly wrong. We are all well rid of them, and the more thoroughly rid of them we are, the better everything will be.
The catharsis of Donald Sterling's overdue exile, when it arrived, owed so much to the fact that this sort of thing never happens, that owners cannot be fired and mostly cannot even be touched. Donald Sterling deserved much worse than what he got, and he deserved it for years. Shelly Sterling isn't much better than he, and doesn't deserve much better herself. But if this is it, then at least this is it.
If there's something unpleasant -- and, more to the point, unpleasantly familiar -- about watching a shameful billionaire riding a golden parachute down after an overdue defenestration, there is at least the sense in this case that, finally, what has gone up will come down. Shelly Sterling will have her titles and her seats. But what she's lost, and what she doubtless still wants, isn't coming back.
The Sterlings' payday in this deal always seemed like a depressingly large sum to pay just to get them to go away. Shelly Sterling's collection of parting gifts does, too. But if Shelly Sterling's titles are scoffed at as the joke that they so transparently are and Donald is laughed out of court until he unearths the dignity to count his billions out of everyone's eyesight -- if the Sterlings actually go away and we can finally get on with the business of forgetting them -- then this price will be worth it.
It will probably come to seem like a bargain.