Donald Sterling’s alleged racist comments released over the weekend were finally the last straw for everyone, including NBA officials.
The Clippers owner told his mistress not to bring black people to his games or even associate with them on a recording released to TMZ. In response, NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league for life and fined him $2.5 million. Silver also said he would do everything in his power to urge other owners to force Sterling to sell the team he has owned for 33 years.
Everyone has been aware of the 80-year-old’s racist track record throughout the years, making it in his best interest to sell the team. The NBA had to publicly get rid of him; it would be extremely detrimental to the league if they let Sterling off the hook again.
ESPN’s Bomani Jones wrote in an article in 2006 that “it’s frightening and disturbing that classic racism like this might still be in play.”
“It was fun to laugh at Donald Sterling when he was a joke,” Jones said. “Now that we know what he’s up to when he’s being serious, he deserves a lot more attention.”
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, made an important point in the locker room on Monday night that booting Sterling could potentially be a “very slippery slope.” He said that although there’s no excuse for Sterling’s comments, “it’s unsettling to think that someone can be removed from the NBA for personal beliefs.”
“In this country, people are allowed to be morons, they’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts,” Cuban said. “But regardless of your background, regardless of the history they have, if we’re taking something somebody said in their home and we’re trying to turn it into something that leads to you being forced to divest property in any way, shape or form, that’s not the United States of America. I don’t want to be part of that.”
Jazon Whitlock, columnist for Fox Sports and ESPN, wrote that removing Sterling from the NBA won’t solve anything.
“It sets a precedent that will likely boomerang and harm the black players and coaches who are shocked and outraged that an 80-year-old man with a documented history of bigoted actions also has bigoted private thoughts,” Whitlock said.
However, it was the NBA’s responsibility to deal with the crisis, especially one of this magnitude. Even though selling the Clippers would be a huge monetary gain for Sterling (according to Forbes, the Clippers are now worth $575 million) and he only paid $12.5 million. It would be worse if the NBA just gave him a slap on the wrist, especially since his players don’t even want him around anymore.
Letting Sterling off the hook would also set an example for what other owners could get away with and potentially cause them to push the boundaries with other issues. Although this was a private conversation leaked to the media, it’s about time Sterling got what he deserved.