On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver brought the hammer down on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for the fallout of his racist comments, banning him for life from all NBA activities or business with the league going forward.
“I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him,” Silver said in Tuesday’s press conference. “We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views. They simply have no place in the NBA.”
The recorded comments between Sterling and his mistress, V. Stiviano, were released to TMZ on Friday, April 25. The 10-minute conversation contained a racial outburst from Sterling, when he said that he was bothered that she was associating with black people. Sterling has also been slapped with a fine of $2.5 million, which is the maximum amount allowed for a fine in the NBA constitution.
According to Silver, the other NBA team owners have the authority to remove Sterling as an owner if three quarters of the league’s owners vote to force him to sell.
As imagined, many people were outraged when the comments surfaced of Sterling’s bigoted views. However, it shouldn’t come as surprising that this happened because Sterling has been in hot water for racial and discrimination issues in the past.
“Adam Silver should be commended for bringing the NBA firmly into the 21st century,” said Matt Covell, a communications/media studies major. “Racism has no place in the Association and Sterling should’ve been removed years ago. I thought the ban was severe, but justifiable due to Sterling’s past issues. I believe that Sterling will take this to court and there is a chance he will be able to keep the team, even if the owners vote him out.”
Back in August of 2006, Sterling was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for housing discrimination for using race as a factor in filling some of his apartment buildings. The suit charged that Sterling refused to rent to non-Koreans in the Koreatown neighborhood and would not rent to African Americans in Beverly Hills.
In February of 2009, Sterling was sued by former longtime Clippers executive and Lakers great Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination on the basis of age and race. That particular lawsuit alleged Sterling told Baylor that he wanted to fill his team with “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach.”
ESPN columnist Bomani Jones wrote a column back in 2006 on Sterling’s racism, but many people seemed to not bat an eye on his behavior. He questioned why his most recent racism has now attracted so much attention.
“Well now eight years after I wrote a column that even my editors when I wrote it admitted they didn’t give it enough play, now everybody wants to come around and hail me as having some amazing level of foresight for seeing this coming. I didn’t see this coming, I saw this happen,” said Jones in an interview with Dan LeBatard. “So where the hell was everybody else when this was actually happening? They were out here trying to tell me I was crazy about racism, but now they know it because Donald Sterling’s mistress put out a tape and an 80-year-old man said she’s embarrassing him by coming to games with black people.”
Former Lakers great and current Dodgers owner Magic Johnson, who is a focus of the controversy regarding him appearing in pictures with Sterling’s mistress, now has been rumored as one of the potential candidates to buy the Clippers once Sterling loses the team.
“As we all know, what Donald Sterling said was a terrible. Racism has no part in our society and what commissioner Silver did was completely justified,” said Sam Butler, a journalism major. “A travesty like what has transpired with Mr. Sterling can only strengthen the NBA. As for the future of the Clippers, I would love to see Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim group purchase the Clippers as long as they don’t have to suffer through a Time Warner Cable channel situation like the Los Angeles Dodgers currently are.”
Some defenders of Sterling online have said he should not have been punished as severely as he was because he is entitled to free speech. However, people seem to be forgetting that although Sterling has that freedom, it does not guarantee he gets to keep his employment as an owner of an NBA franchise. There are guidelines and codes of conduct that Sterling failed to follow in different instances.
As stated by Adam Silver, it no longer matters whether his comments were made in private and were somehow made public. What matters is that his conduct and comments were without a doubt prejudicial and detrimental to the NBA as a whole.