published Friday, June 6th, 2014

Greeson: From Sterling ugliness to sterling Finals

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Rochelle, during a Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles in this 2010 file photo.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Rochelle, during a Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles in this 2010 file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

And with that, it's done.

Donald Sterling withdrew his lawsuits, and his racist rants recorded on tape now become the appositive phrase in his career obituary and a curious meter in modern sports.

Let's consider the tangents and follow the timeline:

Sterling rants. Public outcry demands action and players talk boycott. The NBA reacts by suspending him forever and saying they are going to force the Sterlings to sell the Clippers. Lawsuits are filed; threats are made. Mrs. Sterling holds an auction as owners ponder the thought of blackballing a fellow owner for being a world-class jerk (not a criminal, mind you), which as Mark Cuban said is a slippery slope.

So Steve Ballmer, who has $20 billion and more dollars than sense, bids $2 billion for the Clippers -- easily more than twice the expected value of a team that has been a perennial loser and does not have its own building, and more than $500 million more than the expected ceiling -- and the pieces start to fall into place.

Sterling removed his lawsuit Wednesday and the sale will be approved easily by the league. Which inspires the question: Are there any losers in this deal?

V. Whoseherpants maybe. But other than that, if Sterling was the instigator here, his punishment was selling a team he bought for $12 million for $2 billion. Ouch-standing indeed.

Either way, here's raising a cheer that the discussion turns back to the floor, where the action has run the spectrum from exciting to exotic. It has been about record-setting game sevens and ear blowing from Lance Stephenson.

In the end, despite the Sterling distractions and the unknown representation from the West, the best two teams are left standing. It's Miami and San Antonio in the Finals, and regardless of the outcome of Thursday's Game 1, the series promises to be as evenly matched and entertaining as last year's classic.

Compare the squads:

The Spurs are deeper and better inside.

The Heat have the best player on the planet.

The Spurs have a wealth of experience.

The Heat have the immediate memory of beating this team a year ago.

The Spurs have the best power forward ever.

The Heat have the best small forward ever.

So where do we go? We go where history leads us. The NBA is a star-driven league, and since the birth of the modern era in the early 1980s, the team with the best player is more times than not the best team.

Sure, you can excuse some Detroit titles -- both the Bad Boys' back-to-back and the outlier in the early 2000s -- but other than that, the champ has been led by the King of the Hill.

That King lives in Miami. Period.

Heat in 6 -- and with the Sterling mess behind it, the NBA gets the chance actually to focus on basketball.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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