LOS ANGELES, April 29, 2014 — Following the release of Donald Sterling’s racist rants to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver cracked down hard on the Los Angeles Clippers owner. Silver banished Sterling from the floor of the NBA and the public arena.
It was widely expected that Silver would suspend Sterling for an indefinite period of time. Usually this is followed by an apology tour, a stint in rehab, sensitivity training, and finally back to business as usual. Not this time. Sterling will never again stand beneath, near, or next to the NBA banner.
Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA constitution, the funds donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts
Like Marge Schott before him, it looks as though Sterling will be pressured to sell the team, possibly to Magic Johnson, the NBA great whom Sterling disparaged in his comments. If three-quarters of all owners vote to force Sterling to sell, and Silver is confident they will, Sterling will need to sell.
That force play, however, is not guaranteed. Team owners may not want to set the precedent that owners can force another owner to sell. Should the owners force a sale of the Clippers, the financial windfall to Sterling may take away some of the sting. Sterling purchased the team for $12 million, and estimates of present worth are up to $1 billion.
Silver took plenty of questions following the press conference:
A Fox News reporter brought up the slippery slope argument. Sterling’s remarks were made in private, and he was recorded without his knowledge. However, Silver said:
“These remarks are now public, and they represent his views.”
Sterling has been accused of racial discrimination in the past with regards to the buildings he owns. However, Silver said:
“We did not take into account his past behavior” with regards to the NBA punishment.
The day before Silver’s press conference, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban seemed hesitant to ban an owner. After Silver spoke, Cuban immediately took to Twitter to express “100% support” for Silver’s decision.
Legal experts differ over whether Sterling can be forced to sell his team. However, the owners are expected to close ranks and support Silver. Silver’s edict does not extend to Sterling’s family, so Sterling can still sell his team to his son-in-law.
Silver was asked if the lifetime ban could still be enforced if the owners do not agree to force Sterling to sell. Silver again was unequivocal.
“The lifetime ban has been instituted. That is independent of forcing him to sell the team.”
Silver was asked if he felt a special pain because he and Sterling are both Jewish.
“My response was as a human being. I used the word distraught before.”
When asked if Sterling had shown any remorse:
“Mr. Sterling has not expressed those views directly to me.”
When all is said and done, Silver just let the world know that bigotry will not be tolerated in the NBA.
Silver could have suspended Sterling. He could have studied the matter further, a cowardly position many failed leaders fall back on. Instead, Silver went big and bold.
This was a cut-and-dry case.
Silver’s tenure as Commissioner, which began in February of this year, is off to a good start.
Sterling and his bigotry will not be missed. America may never eradicate hatred forever, but on this day the NBA certainly did its part.
There was no other solution! Adam Silver & the owners have made the right decision. #nba
— James Worthy (@James_Worthy42) April 29, 2014