B Rant: Sterling Futures

by Brantly Martin

18 June 2014

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I wish that I'd sailed the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship 
-Lou Reed, “Heroin”


For the non or occasional basketball fan

The San Antonio Spurs just annihilated the Miami Heat to win the 2014 NBA championship. It was a thing of beauty: passing, teamwork, selflessness, redemption. In sports phrase a la Americana: It was a clinic. The Spurs’ play could be appreciated by a passive basketball fan the same way I—an occasional soccer/futbol/calcio observer—could just tell the header by Robin van Persie against Spain was something. The NBA Finals are also, let’s be honest, an exquisitely produced, slickly edited reality television show. A player might legitimately make "the big shot" but you better believe it’s coming after the TV timeout. With more "distraction options" than time in the day, one of the questions facing Americans is: When do you choose to suspend reality?

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Donald Sterling is the (soon to be former?) owner of the Los Angeles Clippers: one of thirty franchises in the National Basketball Association. Sterling bought the Clippers—then located in San Diego—in 1981 for $12.5 million and relocated them to Los Angeles in 1984. They were recently valued at $575 million by Forbes. An “only in Los Angeles” series of events over the past couple months has exposed Sterling as a racist via a secret—and in California, illegal—recording of a private conversation with a visor-wearing employee/mistress now known as (she’s changed her name a few times) V. Stiviano. The release of these recordings led to the NBA: banishing him for life; transferring the day-to-day control of the franchise to his wife and an NBA-appointed interim CEO; moving forward with a “forced sale” of the franchise (75% of the other owners must approve, a vote was to take place June 3rd), which was rendered moot with the announcement of a purchase agreement with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion (just a “touch” more then the Forbes estimate) that Donald Sterling was okay with…then wasn’t.
      Under Sterling’s stewardship the Clipper’s amassed the lowest winning percentage over that 33 year period of any major American sports team. In a sport where more teams make the playoffs than don’t, the Clippers, miraculously, missed the playoffs 80% of that time. To say they’ve been mediocre would insult the world’s mediocrity. They’ve perpetrated a grotesque and absurd farce. If you're a passing consumer, or victim, of pop culture, you've likely heard of the other basketball team in Los Angeles—the Lakers. Over that same time period the Lakers have been the best NBA team, winning nine championships, and through a combination of winning and Hollywood have created stars: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant. Jack Nicholson sits front row at every game, next to his friend, the music producer Lou Adler. The transient nature of Hollywood has helped position the Lakers as a safe—and until recently, surefire winning—team for the latest actor or pop star to adopt, co-opt, or commandeer in a way that might be frowned upon (and simultaneously envied) by “real” sports fans elsewhere (or Angelinos who can’t afford tickets). 

Among the many American maxims I find ludicrous is the one that goes something like: “Do what you love and money will follow.” Doing what you love might lead to being better at what you love which might lead to having more opportunity to do what you love which might allow you to feed yourself doing what you love but unless what you love is money then it rarely leads to Money. Donald Sterling’s life has been a testament to, if nothing else, the fact that for his generation playing the long game with money could lead to Money. He’s famously said that he’s never sold anything. He may soon have to add “against my will.”
      If you want to lose yourself in the Sterling tapes go for it. In short, he tells his (black and Mexican) girlfriend he doesn’t want her bringing black people to Clippers games, nor does he want her posting photos of herself with black people on social media. He doesn’t mind, however, if she has sex with “them.”
      Oh…boy. 
      In, what one can only assume was an attempt to “explain himself,” Sterling sat down with Anderson Cooper for an interview on CNN. At one point he claims he “loves his players” and (of course!) “they love me.”
      For me, a 1950s record industry milieu surfaces more than the liberally tossed around “plantation mentality.” Even if Sterling has such a mentality it would take, in this tiny hermetically sealed slice of America, two to tango. Only one of those two being the old man running to the bathroom. The NBA, more than other American sports, is predicated on creating stars—national then global. The former NBA commissioner David Stern was masterful at accentuating the positives, and, somehow, “evaporating” obstacles that stood in the way of the league exploding as a corporate mainstream phenomenon. These obstacles to global corporate acceptance included: regular melees during games, rampant cocaine use amongst players (see: 1980s), survival/creation/flourishing of small market teams (see: San Antonio, Oklahoma City). How well did he do? How about creating an association that would allow by far its “worst” franchise owner—from, at the very least, a wins and losses perspective—to turn a $12.5 million investment into a $2 billion sale/(offer). How this came to pass is both “American success story” and decidedly “un-American.” I’ll venture a guess that there were more people on earth able to scrape together—borrow, finance, leverage, whatever— $12.5 million in 1981 than could singlehandedly drop $2 billion today. (Maybe I’m wrong. Forbes?) But breaking the piggy bank to invest in Apple stock or financing some rundown apartments on the Lower East Side in 1981 would have also, eventually, seen serious returns. One still had to do it. Through fortune or acumen, Sterling did. The part that feels so un-American is rewarding Sterling for being the most God-awful American practitioner of what he does. He moved the Clippers to Los Angeles at the height of the 1980s Lakers Dynasty (five championships in the decade) and continued to fly under the radar until the last few years.
      Until the 2012/13 season—when the Nets moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey—Los Angeles was the only city with two teams. The best and the worst “under one roof.” (Is anything more American? I give you the fattest country in the world and the most fitness clubs per capita.) The success of the Lakers was the very cover Sterling used for shelter. In any other city the local fans might have grown restless and “discovered” Sterling’s open secret and forced the NBA’s hand. You might say the Clippers finally “not sucking” for three consecutive years led to his downfall. If they weren’t in the playoffs would anyone know the flawed, visor-wearing messenger?

****

Imagine a world where only 30 casinos are allowed. It still holds true that “the house always win” only now, free from enterprising casino operators, the house “wins more.” These 30 casinos, to a great extent, share profits. One casino owner refuses to fix his plumbing, employs dealers who can’t count, serves watered-down off-brand drinks, doesn’t pay his employees and is continually being accused of discriminatory practices. (Sure, the table minimums are a fraction of the other casinos, and they bus in drunks and pensioners.) The other 29 casinos are run reasonably, or exceptionally, well. The one slacker is eventually forced to sell and receives a record-setting price mainly due to the location of his casino—where he, perhaps, illegally relocated it decades earlier. (Sterling moved the Clippers to L.A. from San Diego without NBA approval. The league sued him. He countersued. The much-weaker-then and cash-strapped NBA backed down and settled. The previous high sale-price for an NBA team was/is the Milwaukee Bucks: $550 million last November.) Setting “imaginary world” legalities aside: Do current and/or past casino owners “deserve” a piece of the sale?

****

I doubt “deserve” deserves to be mentioned. NBA players are 75% African-American. I wonder what would have happened if the “the league” didn’t ban Sterling for life and force a sell. They provided and easy out. I hope the players would have refused to play. A collective: “We don’t care about laws, bylaws, or contracts. We aren’t showing up.”
      Somehow…I'm not sure.
      There was an interesting lag-time at the beginning of this circus. The first recording was out. The NBA hadn’t weighed in yet and the Clippers had a playoff game at Golden State. What would they do?! Not show up? Show up and use the forum to protest? Tommie Smith! John Carlos! Well, they all showed up, tossed their warm-up jackets to center court, which revealed…inside-out warm-up jerseys(!)…and started getting ready for the game. My best friend from high-school, Gabe Muoneke (who played basketball professionally overseas for ten years and is now a petroleum engineer), said it best: “They looked like a boy band.”
    Sterling’s comments in the Anderson Cooper interview were about as “of this century” as hearing Extra Extra Read All About It, Clichés For Days on your way to a Sunday matinée. But…some themes of this American tragicomedy are here to stay: the imperfect messenger; the Gotcha! game; new mores applied to old (and ever younger) men.

The NBA playoffs just ended. The San Antonio Spurs are the champs. The Clippers lost in the second round to the Oklahoma City Thunder four games to two. Now what? After Donald Sterling’s excruciating please-shut-your-mouth interview on CNN, his wife, Shelly, still fighting for her 50% of the club, gave an interview to Barbara Walters where she claimed her husband is showing early signs of dementia.
      Can one be removed as an NBA owner for dementia? What about religious fanaticism mixed with ill-placed marketing?
      What if… Joel Osteen bought the Rockets and informed the H-Town faithful that God had visited him pre-sermon—which would have to be, this holy visit, at his mega-church, Lakewood, that used to be where the Rockets played, The Summit (yeah: a church took over a basketball arena in Houston)—and commanded him that he must “Only employ players 5' 2” and under, my son!” Something about the Old Testament. They must all agree to legally change their names to David. Does the league move to oust him?
     What if… The NBA is unable to get rid of Donald Sterling? He's still there when training camp rolls around next September. It’s a mess: lawyers, media, new “reveals.” An emergency agreement is reached: all Clippers players are offered the choice of playing for the Clippers or voiding their contract and signing with another team. But here's the thing: they can only sign with another team for half their contract. Since Chris Paul is guaranteed about $80 million over the next four years he can go elsewhere for “only” $40 million over four years. Blake Griffin’s contract is almost identical. Do they stay or do they go?

****

One gets the sense this fiasco is already dated. How far out must we look to escape this modern malady of digitally deterministic déjà vu. Let’s try 20 to 30 years.

A Nearish & Noirish Future (#1)

There is a partnership between a Multi-Sensory-Optioned-Reality (MSOR) company called Bthere—recently purchased by GoogAzon—and the NBA. For the technology to function properly each user must submit to a battery of biological, neurological and “future reaction” tests—blood work, brain maps, stress reactions, pain thresholds, “life-digs” going back 40 generations, sexual repressions, athletic dreams—for maximum “thereness in accord with the USDA and NBA regulations and bylaws.” The key, the differentiator of Bthere, according to their user agreement and the countless number of advertisements placed around New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco—the three cities (and five teams) where Bthere was rolled out at the beginning of the 2033/2034 NBA season—is the “absolute and total link between the neural pathways of the user and  real time NBA game action. As the ad says: “Would you rather be seen or Bthere?” 

Bthere began with their “Courtside Experience” and has, for the playoffs, “moved into” the first five rows. Their ad—“If it was good enough for Woody Allen…”—comes with a holo-projection of Mr. Allen at a Knicks game, cap pulled down, juxtaposed over another holo-projection of his no longer copyrighted movie poster for the film “Midnight in Paris” which used a no longer copyrighted Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. 

2034

Taiga—back in New York after a year spent between Rio de Janeiro, São Paolo, Mexico City, Havana and Miami, consolidating and expanding his family's real estate empire—approaches his private stormproof-glass elevator alongside his head-of-security, Dimitri. Taiga pauses, removes his sports coat, wipes his brow, checks his late grandfather's Rolex, and goes over travel plans for next month's World Cup in Venezuela. They both agree Brazil has its best chance since 2014 and express (once again!) their disbelief that Brazil hasn't even reached a final in twenty years. They shake hands and Dimitri shifts to work mode: stone-faced, north-facing, standing guard.
      Taiga walks in front of the stormproof-glass elevator and looks up.
      Retinal scan: check.
      Facial recognition: check.
      Gait recognition: check.
      Neuromap: connected.
      The elevator doors open (“Welcome Home Taiga”) and Taiga's nanny-system is assessed and streamed to the Casa Operating System (COS).
      Elevator speed: slow/scenic.
      Music: none.
      Sound: low audible wind.
      A bottle of water is lowered onto the elevator’s wet bar (bio: dehydrated) along with a multivitamin. Taiga throws the vitamin in his mouth and drinks the water in one go and places it back on the bar. It disappears and is replaced by a vodka tonic with two sliced lemons and four semi-crushed cubes of ice. Taiga looks left (Manhattan) then right (Brooklyn) and wonders, for the umpteenth time, how in the hell he and his Mexican partners pulled this off: The Rio Bravo Cientos New York, a 100-story glass and steel hotel and residence on the East River. He'd left certain “last minute understandings” to the head of the Mexican group, Carlos, and never asked how the city went from “no way, no how, not gonna happen” to providing tax incentives after that meeting in Havana.
      Taiga thinks about these things but never lingers on them.
      The elevator rises past the 10th floor and the COS (stress: mild) sprinkles in some flavor (music: low bpm Samba) from his youth. His nanny-system—those billions of microprocessors splish-splashing throughout his body, talking to each other, to his COS, to his brain (or, were they now his brain…Taiga never understood)—activates what his PND (personal neurological doctor) calls the GPS (gratitude and possibility of sex) region of his brain. The initial sensation of the GPS region “kicking in” is not unlike the one time Taiga tried amphetamines. (He was with Carlos on top of their still scaffolded first hotel and residence project 12 years ago in Miami's Little Haiti—The Rio Bravo Ceintos Miami.) Only GPS activation has no downside. It just melts stress away, like sugar over absinthe.
      Taiga's thoughts turn to Mémé: Should I call her? Should she come over? Dinner? Drinks? 
      Elevator speed: medium.
      What about the games... 
      He'd almost forgotten: the first round of the NBA playoffs. For the first time both New York teams—the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets—were playing at home on the same night. Taiga still preferred the purity of futebol: the pace, the flow, the freedom from timeout after timeout after referee auto-correction just when the games were getting good? How the hell do these Americans put up with all these breaks in action, he'd thought 30 years ago. Of course he'd thought the same thing about all this nanny-system and COS nonsense as well.
      One adjusts.
      The elevator passes the 50th floor as Taiga stares straight up the East River.
      The sun: it must be around 5:30. But then he knew it was 5:41. Was that from his nanny-system talking to his brain or had the nanny-system confirmed with the COS or did he remember that he'd checked his grandfather's Rolex then adjusted or was it the Brazil beach boy in him that could calibrate time by the sky? He no longer cares about these things, or, perhaps, knows that his nanny-system will adjust his (nanny?)system to not care about these things.
      His thoughts turn back to Mémé: her well-proportioned adductor longus (adductor longus? that must be a nanny-word), her long, owl-like neck, delicate thoroughbred ankles, her knowledge of him and his knowledge of her future.
      Feeling just dandy (must be the GPS) he thinks of calling Mémé as he passes the 80th floor and waits for the elevator to ring ring ring her…but that doesn’t happen. No, his thoughts turn back to the basketball games and he knows his options. He knows them about an hour before those still using apps know them.
     He knows what the price will be when he’ll need to know what the price is

* Washington Wizards at New York Knicks; Game 5, 8:00 PM; courtside seats: $24,375 per ticket.
* London Clash at Brooklyn Nets; Game 5, 7:30 PM; courtside seats: $17,350 per ticket.
* Washington Wizards at New York Knicks; Game 5, 8:00 PM; Bthere courtside: $40,000 per user.
* London Clash at Brooklyn Nets; Game 5, 7:30 PM; Bthere courtside: $40,000 per user. 

      Not that Taiga considers cost.
      He reaches the 100th floor. His apartment. All of The Rio Bravo Cientos buildings (New York, Miami, Havana, Caracas, London, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Houston) have one hundred floors. That’s their thing. One-hundred-story-tall steel and stormproof-glass behemoths. He has the 100th floor apartment of each building. That’s his thing. He'd given Carlos a few of his points in exchange for the top floors. No small trade—The Rio Bravo Cientos projects were valued at $34 billion. He'd run the numbers. Those “few points” aped the market value of his top floor homes. But thinking along those lines made Taiga feel like a pig. How much does one really need? When his “good fortune reflections” turn to guilt his nanny-system activates what his PND calls the EA (Emergency Altruism) region and his bank account automatically transfers the minimum amount needed, per his nanny-system, to clear up the “guilt of good fortune.” This is sometimes “as low as” $5000 to the local water filtration NGO. Once, in a panic over the closing of the deal on this very building—the approval to build on the East River—Taiga had his Rio de Janeiro assistant drop off $25,000 in cash at every brothel from Copacabana to Ipanema.
      The stormproof-glass elevator doors open (“Welcome Home Taiga”) and are usurped by the stormproof-glass windows of the apartment. A perfect and unobstructed 360-degree view (the beams somehow “disappear” in the same way the columns do when one stands at the sweet spot in front of the Vatican) from the top of, for many people, the world.
      Taiga picks up the THC smoothie his COS had prepared and weighs his options.
      Mémé… Knicks… Nets...
      Home… MSG… Barclays…
      Should he bring Mémé to one of the games? (He'd sworn off bringing anyone other than die-hard fans to games since a debacle twenty years ago at the World Cup in Rio.) The options present themselves as if on one of those glass screen from The Teens. Only this was internal.
      His nanny-system talking to his brain or as his brain or…
      Bthere.
      Taiga had tried it once before. In Los Angeles a few months ago. Everyone with an up-to-date nanny-system and COS—“No more than one million souls around the universe” according to their sales pitch—had been given the Bthere hardware. Hardware! The name finally matches the meaning, thought Taiga the first time he saw the BTU (Bthere Transporting Uniform), which, he thought, resembled both a page out of a King Arthur graphic novel and a rejected hooligan spacesuit from “Star Wars: Episode X.” He was given two for each of his homes.
      And now he knows what he'll do tonight: call over Mémé and Bthere with her.
      Taiga confirms with Meme, sips on his second THC-infused nanny-system “recommandated” (as the user agreement calls it) smoothie, leans back on his custom-made octagon love seat and nanny-thinks rotate (speed: mild) as the octagon begins to turn and he stares through his one-way-transparent ceiling/rooftop at Tropical Storm Samuel gathering above.

Mémé tells Taiga, No, don’t send your drone over, I’ll walk, hangs up and stares out her window at the no longer—per the National Weather Service—“tropical storm impending” but “tropical storm arrived” Samuel and submits to…no, stops, walks onto her terrace, into Samuel’s teeth, goes into her dream-seeding-projection-breathing…and submits to her mantra: Money Soldi Dinero Loot… Money Soldi Dinero Loot… Money Soldi Dinero Loot… Money Soldi Dinero Loot…
     Mémé loves storms: rain, thunder, tropical. Hurricanes, full on hurricanes, are her favorite. New York is up to, on average, four a year. By 2050 that will be eight. Mémé is the founder of ClimAte, an “eco-pragmatic brand for the global elite.” Business is booming. Last year she rolled out the “rain-rearranger” dress. The dress—known as “the RARE”—utilizes a technology called “pantheon” that ClimAte patented. The wearer of the dress is able to walk through any amount of wind and rain with immunity. The elements of Nature simply make room. No one outside of ClimAte knows how it works. It comes in four colors and retails for $50,000. ClimAte goes public next year.
      When asked by the Financial Times: “Why the RARE dress before the RARE suit?” Mémé responded: “Women first.” She’s on her way to becoming an international icon. Chelsea Clinton is her CEO.
      The only thing Mémé loves more than super-storms is her new home. She agreed to provide RARE gear to the city’s first responders in exchange for the right to build a villa in Tompkins Square Park. Specifically, the section between the basketball courts, the flagpole and 10th Street. City Council approved unanimously. Mémé tore down the “soon to be unsustainable” greenery and planted palm trees. She brought in pelicans, iguanas. She had the Spanish Embassy in Havana disassembled, shipped up, then reassembled. Mémé to the Wall Street Journal: “New York City is slowly becoming the heart of The Tropics. I don’t think it would be right if I, as the head of ClimAte, an eco-pragmatic brand for the global elite, acted otherwise.”
     Mémé scans her RARE dress closet: “Runway Black”; “Summer White”; “Colonial Red”; “Mediterranean Green.”
     Money Soldi Dinero Loot… 
     She puts on a white RARE and walks through her foyer and into her north courtyard.
     Thunder, lightning, torrential downpour, 65 mile-per-hour winds: Mémé is dry, her hair stands in place.
      She walks back inside, changes into a black RARE and leaves her villa.
      Walking east on 10th Street she passes screaming-scattering kids, wind-fallen seniors, cane-party twenty-somethings (walking around downtown in groups during hurricanes, or, less audaciously, tropical storms, sipping on New Orleans style frozen hurricanes infused with the latest designer drugs had become “the thing”) and just the right amount of RARE wearing women.
      RARE wearers rarely make eye contact. Instead, they size up their comradesses-in-competition just as the previous generation’s oh-please-don’t-oh-okay-instagram-me ladies-about-town had done with bags and shoes. The poetry of it is, owners of RARE dresses are only revealed during tropical storms or hurricanes or, at least, cats-and-dogs rain. It’s part of their “right to buy” user agreement. If one is found to “flaunt” (as the user agreement has it) their RAREs in sunny weather, ClimAte could reclaim the dress with no refund, like Ferrari sometimes does when a country-rich Calabrese adds an unfortunate spoiler. These eco-pragmatic global elite women are dying for rain. Super-storms are the new galas. And there they float—black, white, green, red…but mostly black—through the teeth of Tropical Storm, soon to be Hurricane, Samuel.
      (this new eco-pragmatic global elite > impervious)
      Mémé crosses Avenue C, passes in front of a Rain Shelter where a swimming pool used to be; walks through the driveway of a new hotel and condo project, The Projects; and over the 10th Street footbridge that warns: RARE WEARERS ONLY.
      Mémé greets Dimitri at the stormproof-glass elevator that serves Taiga and ascends insulated through Hurricane Samuel as black, white, red and green $50,000 impervious perversions immune to Nature saunter below. 

****

Too much? Let’s just play along…

Mémé, it turns out, grew up a huge basketball fan. Her mother’s favorite players were Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry; her father’s were Hakeem Olajuwon and James Harden. Taiga let her choose the game: London at Brooklyn. And although those of their economic class were able to get around New York in hurricanes via the semi-private tunnel system (the tunnel system was operated by a private company and open to anyone who ponied up $2 million per year) that attached to every new residential building (24 HOUR CONCIERGE – STORM PROOF GLASS – TUNNEL ACESS), they chose to try out Bthere. The following ensues: 

1. Taiga and Mémé bond over their Bthere experience “at” the game. True to its name, once one climbed into the BTU (Bthere Transporting Uniform), and transferred the $40,000, one was there. The London Clash won on a last second three by Steph Curry (at 46 years old now filling the role of a ten-minute-a-game spot-up shooter). Taiga and Mémé drank beer, ate sushi, danced to the halftime show, chatted up the billionaires to their left and right, stormed the court after the winning shot (a “Bthere only option”) and turned down the Bthere option of joining the players in the locker room.

2. Neurologically back at The Rio Bravo Cientos, Taiga and Mémé are in the eye of Hurricane Samuel, fall in love and make a post-first-sex-early-love-plan: to buy an NBA team together. 

3. ClimAte takes off. The company diversifies—military contracts, arctic line, desert line, cheap line—and is hailed as “the first blue-chip stock of the 2040s.” Mémé becomes very wealthy. 

4. The Rio Bravos Cientos keep opening: Santiago, Washington D.C., Dallas, Oakland, Moscow. Taiga becomes very wealthy. 

5. Taiga and Mémé have a falling out. They now hate each other.

6. James Dolan puts The Knicks up for sale. Price: about $8 billion. The only two serious bidders are, separately, Taiga and Mémé. 

       Who knows what the Knicks are really “worth.” (Are the Clippers “worth” $2 billion? To Steve Ballmer they are.) Let’s also say after the Donald Sterling fiasco the NBA implemented an across the board algorithmic analysis of potential franchise owners and approves franchise sales according to one’s “Sterling Score.” Over 30 years it, of courses, increases in accuracy. In short: potential franchise owner X’s $500 million can be rendered more valuable than potential owner Y’s $1 billion. The selling owner must accept the NBA’s decision. Like a lot of things, going from “autonomous homeowner” to being at the mercy of a totalitarian co-op board happened slowly then all at once. 

2044

So: Taiga versus Mémé. They bid the same amount. On paper (funny) they appear equal. (They have an equal Sterling Score.) A media storm ignites: former lovers; first Brazilian owner or first American woman buying a team outright; will Chelsea Clinton become Mémé’s President of Basketball Operations or run for President
      It’s an open secret that Taiga has lived with the benefit of a nanny-system for at least 15 years. Mémé, even once she was financially able to do so, declined the use of a nanny-system. The public, after showing early outrage at the unfair advantages allowed those who could afford a nanny-system, had lost interest much like America had lost interest at the beginning of the 21st century over whether or not one was “self-made”; or whether or not one “had class”; or whether or not one was what came to be known as an SMS (social media sycophant).
     Then it got dirty. Mémé was in talks with the city to expand her RARE gifting to public school teachers and sanitation workers. In exchange they offered her the rest of Tompkins Square Park. She planned to construct ClimAte World: “A research and retail facility that will serve as a flagship for the future.” Taiga’s people did some digging—there may have been some improper arrangements—and reported their findings to the NBA. Her Sterling Score score lowered.
      Mémé, never one to sit pat, went for the haymaker. The company that maintained the nanny-system was hacked. The data—considered the “most encrypted on earth”—was quickly deciphered and not sent to the NBA but made public. The findings: If NOT for the nanny-system controlling and operating Taiga’s impulses, actions and decisions, he, most likely, WOULD HAVE FELT BUT NEVER ACTED ON THE FOLLOWING: low levels of racism, low levels of sexism. In addition, by decoding and reverse-mapping the occurrences where Taiga’s nanny-system activated his EA (Emergency Altruism) region we were able to ascertain multiple business transactions that were either A: Legal in the country where they took place but not legal in the USA, or B: Legal in the country where they took place WHEN they took place but would not be legal TODAY. 
     The “confirmation” that Taiga would have had low levels of racist and sexist thoughts combined with the latest gotcha trend of 2044—How CLEAN are your billions?—was a knockout blow.
      Mémé owned the Knicks.  

Which brings me to an Orwell pause. In this possible 2044 we see, not the Thought Police, but the Would’ve Thought Police. Which, I guess, bridges Orwell and Philip K. Dick (and is a great idea for a series once they both enter the public domain: Orwell vs. Dick). The use of “Orwellian” and “Big Brother” to describe the digital doings of the past decade only makes half-sense. It discards the half that requires the masses to reveal, document, shape and project their most personal selves with a sense of urgency, shamelessness, endless energy and meth-like ambition in a fashion similar to what might have been on display during the gold rush of the mid-19th century or the Texas oil boom 50 years later. An outside observer might justly look at American society and declare: “You also have a right to give up your privacy, which appears to be your life’s mission.” Maybe the other half of the Orwellian should be coined the Yorkean: You do it to yourself, you do / And that’s what really hurts.
      Nanny-systems. COS. PND. Sterling Score. If you’re on social media and/or have ever heeded a suggestion from Amazon/Netflix/Facebook/Spotify/iTunes then you are primed for this imagined 2034–2044 quotidian shrug.
      If we’re looking forward 30 years it only seems fair to take a (quick) look back. What would have come of this tape in 1984? I reckon a big fat NADA. Recording someone was possible, if slightly more difficult. Dispersion methods—newspaper, TV, Sports Illustrated—might have required an unattainable “confirmation.” At best, Ron Burgundy would have read part of the tape off a teleprompter. At worst, Ron Burgundy would have…

****

As of today (June 18th, 2014) Donald Sterling has decided to fight the sale of The Clippers and sue the NBA for $1 billion. In an odd twist, Shelly Sterling (along with “off-stage” actors no doubt) is moving forward with the claim that she has a right to sell the Clippers based on a finding that Donald Sterling is “…affected by cognitive impairment.”  

     Per ESPN:

According to court documents filed Wednesday, three doctors concluded in May that Donald Sterling suffers from "mild cognitive impairment consistent with early Alzheimer's Disease'' or some other forms of brain disease.

One doctor, James E. Spar, who is affiliated with the division of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA, said he believes "Mr. Sterling is at risk of making potentially serious errors of judgment, impulse control and recall in the management of his finances and his trust.''

"In my opinion he is substantially unable to manage his finances and resist fraud and undue influence, and is no longer competent to act as trustee of his trust,'' Spar concluded.

       Really? This is a man who has overseen the biggest loser in professional sports and been accused but never convicted of racial discrimination, age discrimination, housing discrimination and sexual harassment. The only area he appears to be above reproach is his ability—by hook or by crook—to make a buck. So when the good doctor’s “he is substantially unable to manage his finances” is being used as evidence (at least in the digital town square) that he should be forced to sell a business for $2 billion that he bought for $12.5 million we’ve either entered Crazy Town or are well on our way to the future scenario I made up. If what the doctor says is true it can only be “future true.” It appears Donald Sterling is being given the first Sterling Score. Odd that an owner of a sports team would be held to a higher neurological standard than a Supreme Court Justice.

     More from ESPN:

In an interview with ESPN's Sage Steele during halftime of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Silver said that the NBA is essentially “on the sidelines” and standing back and allowing “this dispute between Donald and Shelly Sterling to play itself out.”

“We had scheduled a hearing for our owners in which we were going to move to terminate his franchise,” Silver told Steele. “We never got to that hearing because Shelly Sterling said to us, 'I'm selling the team' and then she went and sold them the team. Donald's attorney actually sent us a letter saying he was agreeing to allow her to negotiate the sale of the franchise.

“But because we knew Donald was also suing us, we asked Shelly to indemnify us, to ensure if Donald didn't go along with the sale that she would cover us. She did. So this is really now a dispute between the Sterlings.”

     So the players passed the Sterling buck to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and he passed the Sterling buck to Donald Sterling’s estranged wife.
     Got it. 
     Just when one starts feeling they couldn’t all deserve each other any more, we hear that Sterling has hired multiple private investigation firms to search for dirt on both the NBA front office and his fellow owners. Sounds about right. 

I don't think the legality of the recordings matter. I don’t think the source, or her motivation, matter. I don’t think the NBA bylaws matter. I don’t think what would have happened in the past matters. Unlike Joe Strummer, I do think the future is written. I just don’t have access to the script. I hope it goes like this: Next season rolls around with Donald Sterling still owning the Clippers and fighting a forced sell in the courts. NBA players are faced with a decision: A) Let “the process play out” or B) Refuse to play until he sells. I’m for B. If for no other reason than to see one last discombobulated over-produced display of human self-righteousness (that is also the most facile and correct move) while We are still capable of such expression. Are We though?

 more from Brantly Martin

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