Mike Kueber's Blog

May 14, 2014

Who’s got the money?

Filed under: Business,Media,Politics,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 11:06 pm
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Yesterday, during a discussion of various & sundry subjects, my best friend and I talked about Donald Sterling’s criticism of Magic Johnson.  According to Sterling, Magic is not a good role model for minority kids because of his AIDS status.  The media jumped to defend Johnson and quickly pointed out that Sterling was once again ignorant because Johnson had HIV, but not AIDS.

That point is what is sometimes called a distinction without a difference.  Yes, HIV is not AIDS, but Sterling’s criticism was based, not on Johnson’s particular affliction, but rather on Johnson’s admittedly promiscuous NBA lifestyle while being married and with children.

The media also asserted that Johnson was arguably the most successful black businessman in America.  My friend and I were both dubious about that assertion, with my friend suggesting that Johnson was not super-wealthy and that his ownership interest in the LA Dodgers was nominal, like that of George W. Bush’s previously in the Texas Rangers.  I agreed that Johnson was not super-wealthy, but suggested that both he and W. had invested several million dollars in their teams.  I also volunteered to learn the facts so we could quit speculating.

The facts regarding Magic as the most successful black businessman in America:

  • According to an authoritative website, Magic is #7 on the list of wealthy African-Americans, with $500 million.  Of those with more money – Mariah Carey, Robert Johnson, Sean Combs, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Oprah Winfrey – only Robert Johnson is a businessman in the traditional sense.  The others are popular entertainers who capitalized on their ability to entertain.  Incidentally, Oprah is the only billionaire in the group and she has $2.6 billion.  There are seven other black billionaires worldwide, with most of them from Nigeria.

Regarding Magic’s interest in the LA Dodgers, according to Yahoo.com, Magic invested $50 million, which amounts to 2.3% of the $2.15 billion purchase price.  The controlling partner is Kirk Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Capital.  By contrast, according to ESPN.com, George W. Bush invested only $600,000 in the Rangers, and this amounted to 1.8% equity.  But he also served as the managing partner who increased the value of the franchise to $250 million when it was sold in 1998, and a bonus clause increased his payout from a little more than $4 million to $14.9 million.

Incidentally, my best friend thought that George H.W. Bush was much richer than W., but that was wrong.  According to Wikipedia, Bush-41 has $23 million while Bush-43 has $20 million.  Career politicians who started poor and end up rich include LBJ at $98 million and Bill Clinton at $55 million.  Hmmm.

May 1, 2014

Donald Sterling

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 12:01 am

Last night, I started to write about the Donald Sterling matter.  I began my post as follows:

  • The NBA announced today that Donald Sterling, because of his racist comments, would be banned from the league for life and fined $2.5 million. As a staunch opponent of political correctness, my reaction is that the punishment is too harsh.

But when I attempted to go forward with an argument, I became queasy about defending the indefensible.  So I left a bunch of verbiage on the drawing board and went to bed.  Then this morning, I awoke to my daughter-in-law posting a harsh comment on Facebook about Sterling, and that was all I needed to engage my defense-lawyer sensibilities:

Heather Townsend Kueber – Been out of the loop the last few days. I just found out about the Sterling/Clippers owner horrific statements. I’m speechless. Just speechless. How do people like this exist?

Elizabeth Fager – Between him, the idiot in Nevada making racist comments, and Phyllis Schlafly saying women shouldn’t earn as much as men because then they will have a hard time finding a husband to take care of them…..I feel like I have somehow taken a time capsule back to the 1950s!

Mike Kueber – Sterling told his girlfriend that he didn’t like her hanging out with black people in public. I suspect there are lots of people of all races who prefer to live segregated social lives.

Heather Townsend Kueber – Mike she is half black! I listened to the tape. When she told him, he didn’t even know that.  Then he proceeded to say that he gives them money for food and shelter (referring to his players). Umm…they make you money dude. They earn money. Not a hand out. And if you want to live segregated, fine. Don’t know a NBA team!!!

Mike Kueber – Lots of employers feel like they are doing their employees a favor by giving them a job.

Heather Townsend Kueber Do you think the NBA did the right thing?

Lavada Figueroa It is also surprising to me that there are people like his mistress. She knew he was a racist and still dated him. I don’t care how much money is in it, I could never kiss that man’s face. Lol

Katie Schneider Goetz I’m glad he’s being punished so harshly. Just b/c he’s old and grew up in a different era doesn’t make it okay. Discrimination of any kind based on something you can’t change (race, sexual orientation, gender, age), has no place in a country that needs people of all kinds to be successful.

Mike Kueber I agree with Mark Cuban’s initial point that this is a slippery slope when you start shifting the NBA from a collection of powerful eccentric owners into a politically-correct corporation. Old self-made men, like Red McCombs talking about UT coach Charlie Strong, are not wired to act and sound like corporate puppets. As corporate as UT has become, I’m surprised that it didn’t decide to disassociate itself from McCombs after his comments on the hiring of Strong, but I guess UT athletics is too dependent on his money and the money of other self-made eccentric men. Obviously, the NBA doesn’t need Silver, and his fellow owners have decided to cut him loose.

Mike Kueber Katie, there is a difference between discrimination in employment, housing, etc. and discrimination in your social life. Obviously, Sterling did not discriminate in hiring because almost all of his players are black and his long-time GM Elgin Baylor was black. Baylor produced two winning records in 22 years and then sued Sterling for racial discrimination when he was finally fired and Baylor lost his case 12-0 to a jury. But many people of all races in this country often choose to socialize with their same race, and I don’t think we should demonize all of them.

Katie Schneider Goetz Being old, self-made and eccentric doesn’t make it okay to be a racist and that’s what he is. Forbidding your mistress from associating w/ black people is sooooo different from just choosing to socialize w/ your same race.

Diana Patricia Pereda I too hate that he made those comments but what everyone seems to be overlooking is this “lady’s” planned recordings in his own home. THAT I don’t agree with at all. He didn’t make a public statement of his obviously ignorant views. He was speaking to someone he trusted and regardless of his stupidity it was in private. She’s an opportunist. Clear and simple and to be honest if every single one of us were to be recorded in the privacy of our own home and speaking to our spouse and/or significant other I’m sure every single one of us has said something we’re not so proud of and what if we lost our job from it? I know he’s filthy rich and that’s not going to affect his livelihood however things like this set a precedence for the future and that is something that’s not cool.

Mike Kueber I believe the tape reveals that Sterling didn’t even forbid his mistress from associating with black people. In fact, he said she could socialize with them. But he insisted that she not do it in public – i.e., Instagram photos or taking them to his basketball games.

Mike Kueber Diana, the recordings were also illegal in CA. With all of the 24/7 coverage of this matter, you’d think the media would also examine how this guy received NAACP awards. These are two scandals that have received scant attention.

Michael Arrandale Arnold I agree with you Mike because there is a little thing we were all given by our fore fathers called free speech and even though I am most people in this country (I hope) find what he said offensive, he has a right to say it. I wasn’t aware that this was a recording that his girlfriend made without his knowledge and since California requires both parties to agree to be recorded (am I interpreting what you said about that correctly Mike?) then she should be held liable for any damages she has caused him. I agree with the statements Mark Cuban made on this and feel that the NBA overstepped their boundaries by banning him for life. It would be interesting to see if they could be held liable for any monetary loses of him being banned because of a recording that could not even be admissible in court. I’m not by any means agreeing with what the man said and find it repulsive but that is beside the point here. He is an American and that gives him certain liberties that we all enjoy.

John Braswell The interesting thing to keep in mind here is that freedom of speech and freedom of association cut both ways. He is free to say what he likes, and the NBA is free to decide that they no longer want to associate with him. When people get upset at private companies for “censoring” free speech by not renewing or ending a contract they are forgetting that the first amendment only protects our right to speak freely from government restriction, not the repercussions of saying something that is dumb and going to get you in trouble.

Mike Kueber John, that was exactly my point. In the past, the NBA owners were pretty much free to run their club as they wanted; just like you running your business. If your customers (i.e., the fans) didn’t like the way you ran your business (or the way you run your mouth), they were free to take their business elsewhere. This Sterling ban signifies that these so-called owners people don’t really own a business, but rather they have an emasculated franchise that can be taken away at the whim or caprices of the commissioner or the other franchisees. If I were an owner, I wouldn’t like being emasculated, but I also wouldn’t like the discredit that Sterling brings to their Association. If I had been an owner, I would have lobbied for a less draconian penalty, something like a 5-year suspension.

Mike Kueber Michael, yes California is one of those states that prohibit secret recordings in that all parties being recorded must be aware of it. So, the girlfriend could easily be liable for incalculable damages, but obviously she will not have the resources to…See More

Heather Townsend Kueber But you know…when you own a NBA team your not really a “private” business owner. You become a public figure. If you don’t like it then go into business doing something else. Often times as a public figure you have to pay publicly for your the sins you commit in your private life. It just is. Some get run through the mud for just the fact of having a mistress.  I think the mistress/GF should be charged criminally. But I’m still glad Sterling was punished as harshly as he was. The NBA is such a huge part of American culture and our society doesn’t have to tolerate evil racism anymore.

Lavada Figueroa I’ve read in a few articles that she recorded him on many occasions, and he was aware of it. He considered her an “archivist”. Therefore, I’m not sure that she can get into any legal trouble.

Heather Townsend Kueber Interesting Lavada

John Braswell Kareem had an interesting take on the issue.

Marshall Britt I’d add that the Clippers organization is not a business on it’s own, and that the NBA is the business, and it allows the franchises to operate within it. If there were no league, the profit wouldn’t exist.. Having said that, John is entirely correct, Sterling is absolutely allowed to make those comments, and the NBA is allowed to disassociate with him (especially considering that 80% + of the league is African American.) That same freedom extends to me as a citizen when I call Donald Sterling a racist old wrinkled bastard who the world can do without, extending that statement to anyone who agrees with his sentiments, as associations SOLELY based on race are that of racist people.  On the point of her being charged, she could very simply claim she was recording it due to the domestic issues they had, and claim it was simply evidence that he was racist which is why she left.. I think if the history of the rulings out of CA has shown much, it’s that they are relatively liberal, and more than certainly will excuse her behavior.

Mike Kueber Marshall, your bigotry against old wrinkled people is disgusting. I have half a mind to publicize that. Oops, you already did.

Marshall Britt “racist old wrinkled bastard” is 4 adjectives explaining a single subject. Were I to meet anyone that fits all 4, I certainly would have no objections to telling them exactly how I felt about them. However you are correct, one can be the former without being any of the latter, so I admit that was simply for effect, I in fact love old wrinkly bastards of all kinds.. I hate racists of any kind.  Those are the kind of public declarations that we need, rather than ones of hate based on genetics.

Mike Kueber Marshall, good thing you don’t own a team because we old, wrinkled bastards would either be starting a boycott or, better yet, insisting that you be expelled from the league. Seriously, though, you just proved how someone in private can easily say something that they don’t mean. We say all sorts of things “simply for effect.” If the league wants to try this guy for racism, then do it without having a kangaroo court that seems to be based solely on the illegal recording.

Marshall Britt Meh, it’s a White guy who owns a team of Black men.. The NBA is simply another form of human ownership when you really consider it.. The large majority of the ownership is smart enough to not make racist remarks while literally having control over every aspect of player’s lives.. It’s been a common topic of discussion among my sports minded friends and I, the NFL and NBA are purchased humans who often have a ridiculously poor quality of life within 5 years of exiting the leagues. ESPN 30 for 30 “Broke” is about that particular phenomenon.  Statistically I don’t think a poor statement about wrinkled old white men would garner much attention. White people kinda had 200 years of unchecked aggression against minorities. Beyond that, I do not own any other human beings, and was speaking specifically about Donald Sterling, not “all old wrinkled bastards on instagram…” These kinds of rants are what happen when racist people get old enough to forget the brain to mouth filter. Al Davis (Late owner of the Raiders) Had a famously racist rant in the late 80’s, however the power of internet and media is far stronger now and demands immediate reaction. I see why you have issue with it Mike, but I think there are very few ways a person can defend him (or deplore the NBA’s actions) without seeming to agree with what he has said in some sense..

Mike Kueber As a lawyer, I see a major difference between defending someone against a lynch mob and agreeing with him. I wonder why no one attempted to force Red McCombs out of the UT athletic program even though his comments about Charlie Strong were arguably more racist than Sterling’s. A defendant’s popularity should not determine what sort of justice is meted out.

Marshall Britt The NBA is not a court of Law. The bylaws allow for the governors to remove an owner if 29 agree that his ownership is degrading the quality or legitimacy of the league. The bylaw was arguably meant to help prevent collusion between franchises, but in this case, the wording certainly allows for the to legally remove him from his position. Last I checked Red McCombs is money and gets to go to dinner occasionally, he does not own, and is rarely involved in any decisions, which is why he whined about Charlie Strong. He was also dismissed as a senile old racist, it’s just far more common to hear those folks run their mouths in Texas vs. Los Angeles.  This isn’t a public lynching, the NBA decided he is bad for their brand, he will alienate a large portion of their base in the largest market the NBA has.. The weighed public opinion and made a decision based on what is best for their league.. Mike I’d put it this way, if you owned a large number of McDonald’s Franchises, and publicly denounced, or insulted a racial group, McDonald’s has every right to discontinue your franchise rights.. I realize it’s not exactly the same, but the principal holds true..

Marshall Britt I think this article from bleacher report shows just how poor a decision NOT banning Sterling would have been.. The playoffs wouldn;t be on right now..


In the fine tradition of Bill O’Reilly, I think I will give Marshall the last word.