Franchises have all sorts of requirements and covenants that most business contracts don't.If you buy a McDonald's franchise you have to buy all the food from McDonald's (even if you can get it cheaper somewhere else), put up all of the seasonal promotional materials they send you, they get to decide where the store goes so as to avoid competition with existing franchises, and you have to keep the place up with general corporate standards. Even with all those requirements people are still falling over themselves to buy McDonald's franchises because they're so profitable. Same thing with the NBA.
It was private free speech that became public. I think the NBA franchise agreement allows for a forced sale if the owner's actions damage the league's image or something like that. I don't remember the exact words they used. I'm sure the NBA will argue that since 85% of the players and a huge portion of the fan base are black, that Sterling's continued presence damages the league.The whole thing is stupid. Sterling is a racist jerk, but the woman who recorded him seems pretty shifty. I also love how everybody at the NBA is full of faux righteous indignation. Apparently his views were pretty widely known, but as long as he was quiet no one cared. I do think Mark Cuban had a good point. Do we really want to start punishing people for their privately held views? I think they can, legally, but should they? Regardless of whether his views are despicable, I don't like the idea of "thought police".