Adam Silver has been commissioner of the National Basketball Association for just a few weeks.
Today he earned his spurs, showed his chops, manned up and did quite well to punish an NBA team owner for revealing some truly disgusting views on race.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned from team and league activities for life; he will have to pay a $2.5 million fine and will be pressured by the NBA Board of Governors to sell his team.
That was the decision announced today by Silver … and it has drawn widespread praise from around the NBA and indeed the country. Given the terrible battering that has come over Sterling’s remarks, the league needed something off the court to cheer.
Sterling’s comments came in a phone call with his quite young girlfriend. He said he didn’t want her associating with African-Americans in public and said he doesn’t want African-Americans attending games involving the team he has owned for three decades. The sum total of the man’s tirade betrays a disgusting view of a wealthy team owner toward the vast majority of the athletes who participate in the NBA and a good many of the coaches who lead these young men in their athletic endeavors. Most of the players are black, as are a hefty number of the head coaches.
FoxSports.com reported, “Sterling still owns the team, but going forward he is immediately barred from attending any NBA games or practices, being present at any Clippers office or facility, participating in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team, or being part of any league business.”
The league cannot take the team away from the owner, but 75 percent of the league’s owners — for whom Silver works — can endorse the sanctions against him and can force Sterling to sell the team, presumably to someone who doesn’t hold this individual’s disgusting views.
And what will happen to the $2.5 million Sterling will pay? It will go toward organizations whose mission is to fight bigotry and intolerance; the NBA and its players association will select the organizations.
The action taken today by the NBA is the brightest light shining over a league thrown into turmoil. Its players have performed magnificently in light of this team owner’s bizarre rant and they deserve credit for continuing their excellence on the competitive court.
The new commissioner, though, has shown a remarkably stiff spine and an equally suitable outrage over what one of his bosses, Donald Sterling, has been caught saying out loud.