I am proud of the NBA today.
Longtime LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was outed as a bigot the other day, which didn’t really surprise many people who had followed sports for the past 30 years, but it was finally on-tape in the Twitter and YouTube age, which meant he wasn’t going to be able to hide from it anymore. I don’t agree with mob mentality, but in today’s culture, people cannot be in the public eye, say despicable things, and get away with it.
Shoot, just take Paula Deen for instance. Deen’s comments and the words she used around African-Americans were horrible, but they also happened years ago. If she can be publicly called out for her racist views from years in the past, then Donald Sterling wasn’t going to evade this tape which was made just six months ago.
What I loved about what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did was he applied Karmic discipline. On the tape, Sterling tells his girlfriend (public mistress?) he hates that she associates with black people, specifically mentioning LA athletes Matt Kemp and Magic Johnson. (Side note: this woman, V. Stiviano, is half-black, half-Hispanic.) Sterling then specifically makes his distaste known that she brings other African-Americans to Clippers games. (This in addition to other strange viewpoints on race and religion that popped up in the audiotape.)
Last I checked, most of the NBA is black and many are on Sterling’s payroll. (In fact, former Clipper Baron Davis said the other day that Sterling would call him offensive names during his time there.)
So, the NBA has a problem. One of their owners is a racist. There was player and coach outrage. Many other owners voiced their anger at their fellow owner. There was even talk of a player strike — during the NBA playoffs. New Commissioner Adam Silver had to do something.
So, he fined him the most he could — $2.5 million — and then did the best thing he could do. He took away the thing he loved the most. Going to the Clippers games. The very games where he didn’t want to see black people — now he can’t even go. Banned from games, practice, his own team corporate offices. Appropriate and justified.
Well done, Commissioner Silver. You didn’t hesitate when you could have toed that line. I applaud your stance and hope the owners back your attempts to rid the league of this relic of a racist age.