Banned for life

This was no slap on the wrist. This was the NBA’s “nuclear” option intended to send a clear message that bigotry has no place in American society, much less the world’s pre-eminent pro basketball league whose teams are composed overwhelmingly of black players.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life from any association with the league. He also fined Sterling $2.5 million — the maximum allowed under the league’s bylaws — and initiated steps to force a sale of the team.

Rarely do the wheels of justice turn this swiftly. But the NBA is not a court of law. It doesn’t have to abide by the tenets of due process or the presumption of innocence. It has its own mechanism for dealing with conduct detrimental to the league, and Silver exercised the full might of his authority.

Silver sent the right message — the only message — about the “hateful opinions”  Sterling expressed in audio recordings released by TMZ over the weekend.

“They simply will not be tolerated,” the commissioner said in a press conference announcing the lifetime ban.

That the comments were made in private made no difference to Silver. “Whether or not they were made in private, they are now public and represent (Sterling’s) views,” the commissioner said.

Sterling, the longest-tenured owner in the NBA, came under fire after TMZ released an audio recording of a conversation he had with girlfriend. On the tape, Sterling can be heard scolding her for bringing blacks to Clippers games and posing for photos with them.

Silver said Sterling acknowledged that the voice on the recording was his but expressed no other views during a short investigation. That admission was enough for Silver to impose the harshest possible punishment. Sterling may not attend any games or practices or be involved in any business or player-personnel decisions pertaining to the Clippers. The $2.5 million fine will be donated to anti-discrimination groups with input from the players’ union.

Silver has only been on the job since February, replacing long-time commissioner David Stern. Before the press conference, ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson described Silver as a “brilliant” lawyer who would be “careful and meticulous” in his reasoning.

But Silver meted out the punishment with an emotional edge. He said he was “personally distraught” by Sterling’s behavior and issued a personal apology to Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and other “pioneers” of the game for Sterling’s “deeply offensive and harmful” comments.

Sterling has fought charges of racism in court. But his past didn’t factor into the lifetime ban, Silver told reporters. When “specific evidence” was brought to the league, it investigated and reacted appropriately, he said.

Silver’s actions exceeded expectations, but the punishment wasn’t excessive. The cold precision with which he addressed the problem reflects America’s ever-hardening stance against racism.

It’s wrong and it won’t be accepted.


Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Page 1 of 1

While the Sentinel’s editorial endorsement of the NBA’s decisive response to Donald Sterling’s racism (“Banned for Life”) is commendable, it facilely condemns the obvious while ignoring more subtle manifestations of deeply-ingrained societal nativism.

Particularly troubling are two previous editorials: “Nevada grazing standoff reignites a festering feud” (April 15, 2014) and “Court ruling reflects progress on equality” (April 24, 2014).

Only when Cliven Bundy revealed himself to be an unrepentant racist did “conservative” Republicans abandon their “hero worship” of that free-loading “welfare cowboy” – but not their perverse definition of “patriot” (gun-toting anti-Constitutionalists using women and children as shields and positioned to assassinate conscientious federal officials).

However, the Sentinel has still not reported that the factual predicate of its sympathy for that “festering feud” – that the Bundy’s had been grazing cattle there since 1877 – was bogus.  Consequently, its anti-government readers don’t know that the Bundy’s acquired the base property in 1948 and first grazed cattle on the disputed federal lands in 1954. 

Likewise, while the Sentinel equivocatingly applauded the Supreme Court’s retreat from affirmative action and Voting Rights protections, it ignored the inference that the Court’s “conservative” majority’s stated “belief” in “vast improvements” was merely convenient ideologically-driven justification to dismantle the successful legal protections that had made more meager improvements possible in the first place.

Similarly, the Sentinel noted that “we have twice elected a [half-] black president to lead our country”, which for some affords “a compelling justification for a re-examination of affirmative action in this country”.

However, an overlay of maps depicting opposition to “ObamaCare”, support for voter suppression, average education levels, rural poverty, and the “Old South” suggests that President Obama’s elections actually re-ignited latent racism, and that the Court’s rulings have given the Donald Sterlings, the Cliven Bundys, and like-minded local “Tea Partiers” license to more virulently express themselves.

Page 1 of 1

Search More Jobs

734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050; M-F 8:00 - 5:00
Subscribe to print edition
eTear Sheets/ePayments

© 2017 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy