When a commissioner is brought on board to run a league they have to get the blessing if not of all the owners, at the very least the majority of owners. So in essence the commissioner is a direct employee of the owners. Allegedly, Donald Sterling (owner of the Los Angeles Clippers) over the weekend came out with egregious, racial remarks towards African American and Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson. The question is what can new NBA commissioner Adam Silver can so? In my 20-someodd years of watching professional sports I've never heard of a commissioner forcing an owner to sell his/her team. Owners have been suspended from leagues, but never has been forced by a commissioner to sell. Have owners been the "bad guy" absolutely, have owners taken leave from their teams sure, but a commissioner can't force anything but a suspension.
Fellow owners and fans can be a more driving force against Donald Sterling, on the other hand. If fellow owners put pressure on Sterling maybe that can force him out. Fans can stop buying Clippers gear or stop going to the game, that can be another option (but fans will still go to Clippers game since the Clippers are in a tight playoff showdown with the Golden State Warriors). So what exactly can anybody do to make this alleged racist understand that he has to change his point of view? If the commish doesn't have the power to curtail Sterling's influence on his team and his wife can't force him out then the best thing is a suspension and yet Sterling still wins because he'll probably continue to get paid off the backs of people he doesn't even like.