I’ve looked at this entire situation involving Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling from as many different angles as I could. What is quite clear is that Sterling is just not a good person. His actions for decades have reeked of ignorance and intolerance and sadly, it took something like this for the National Basketball Association to act.
While I believe that Commissioner Adam Silver has done the right thing in banning Sterling for life and forcing him to sell the franchise, I have great concerns for the future.
In his press conference, Silver stated that Sterling was being banned for what was on the tape recording. To me, that’s a mistake. Silver should have cited other instances in his Sterling’s life as well as the tape recording. The reason I say this is because what is going to happen when something similar to this happens?
Don’t think that it will? Think again…
Because Commissioner Silver has set this as the precedent for any sort of racist language and behavior, what will happen if it occurs again or in a different manner?
Let’s say Denver Nuggets’ owner Stan Kroenke makes disparaging remarks about European players. Will the same punishment be bestowed upon him? What if Les Alexander who owns the Houston Rockets says he doesn’t want Hispanics at his games? Does he get banned for life?
The Pandora’s Box is now open and there’s an even bigger issue that could arise as well. The players in the NBA who have been so supportive of Silver may in fact be second thinking this if they say something wrong.
What if a black player makes inappropriate comments about a white player? It’s happened before. Go back to the 1980’s when the Detroit Pistons were trying to dethrone the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
After a game in which Larry Bird had rallied the Celtics to a victory in the playoffs, Dennis Rodman was asked about Bird. He said “If Bird were white he’d be just another player.” The comment was fairly soft but when the journalists asked Isiah Thomas if he agreed and he repeated exactly what Rodman had said controversy ensued.
How will Silver justify a minimal suspension for inappropriate behavior by another owner or a player? The precedent is there and he will be forced to stick to it.
Again, I’m not defending Donald Sterling in any way, shape or form. I just believe that what the NBA has now created is going to be a very difficult set of guidelines with which to follow. Silver cannot show bias towards players, owners, general managers or officials. What will he do when something similar happens again?
Within hours of the statement by Silver, journalists were already taking the National Football League and Roger Goodell to task. The issue relates to the NFL because of what has gone on recently with the Washington Redskins.
While I personally believe the issue should ultimately be decided by Daniel Snyder himself, it is a similar issue. There is mounting pressure from Native American groups and political ‘posses’ to get Snyder to change the name for its’ insensitivity to Native Americans.
The difference is that Snyder, nor anyone else in the organization has made remarks disparaging Native Americans as Sterling did towards African-Americans. Therefore there is a difference.
If we get back to the NBA, Silver may face pressure from a different social demographic. Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos has been openly vocal against gay rights. With at least one openly gay player in the NBA, will there be pressure to force DeVos to sell his team?
No, not unless he says something stupid at least.