Weekend Ramblings Include More NFL Suspensions and How Dumb the NBA Looks Right Now

Goodell
Goodell
Roger Goodell laid down some suspensions yesterday and there will be more coming.

Yesterday the news coming out of the National Football League was anything but positive and if it’s any indication of things to come, Ray Rice should be very concerned.

It was announced on Friday that Arizona Cardinals’ linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for the entire 2014 season. Washington was suspended under the league’s substance abuse policy. This was his third violation and also includes a domestic violence charge as well. That offense of the league’s personal conduct policy appears to be part of this year-long suspension.

Also on Friday, New York Giants’ safety Will Hill was suspended for the first six games of the 2014 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Since 2012, Hill has failed three drug tests and missed the first four games each of the last two years.

What these two suspensions will do is create speculation about just how long Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice may be suspended. Rice recently gave ┬áless than stellar six-minute press conference speaking for the first time about knocking his wife (then fiance) out in an elevator. The one advantage Rice has is that this was a first-time event and he has been a positive force in the community.

The disadvantage is that it appears more and more NFL players are slipping up and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s policies just aren’t working. When things such as these aren’t working, one of the few options is to get tougher and especially on first-time offenders. I have to think that deep within the walls of the NFL Offices, Goodell and his disciplinary minions are preparing to go nuclear.

The danger for them is the pending discipline that Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay is awaiting. The players are keeping a very close eye on this to see how Goodell handles his situation compared to that of their own.

All I can tell you is stay tuned because I think both Ray Rice and Jim Irsay have more coming than they originally might have thought.

Sterling
Sterling may have lost his team but he has a lot more money now too.

The NBA May Have Screwed Up

Six weeks ago, Donald Sterling caught the ire of nearly all Americans with his ignorant and insensitive comments about African-Americans. Since that time, his Los Angeles Clippers were taken from him and his team was bounced in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Over the last 48 hours, it has become clear that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will become the new owner of the team.

His $2 billion bid was far and away the leading bid and I’ll address more about that in a second. Shelly Sterling is the one who has been working behind the scenes to get a deal done before NBA owners vote to force Donald Sterling to sell. Because earlier this week Mr. Sterling was deemed mentally incompetent, Mrs. Sterling was legally allowed to proceed with the sale.

It was reported late yesterday that Sterling may have Alzheimer’s.

Let’s remember that Sterling purchased the Clippers for $12.5 million 33 years ago. While he will be forced to pay capital gains taxes in the hundreds of millions, he will still come out with significantly more money now then had he chose to sell the team had this never happened.

While NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did the right thing by banning Sterling, hindsight shows us that he may have jumped the gun in forcing the sale. While I’m sure Sterling would have preferred to keep his team, he ends up getting much, much wealthier in the entire process while the NBA looks foolish for making a racist owner richer and almost sympathetic in the process.

 

Could the Sterling Ban Blow Up in Adam Silver’s Face?

Silver and Sterling
Silver and Sterling
Adam Silver has spoken on Donald Silver but will this precedent cause future issues?

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?

Kroenke
What happens if Denver owner Stan Kroenke disparages a social or ethnic group. Will he be banned?

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 ┬árepeated 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.

 

With Sterling Gone for Good, Attention Can Turn Back to the Court

Silver
Silver
New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver nailed his first crucial decision when he gave Donald Sterling a lifetime ban.

New National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver wasted no time in putting his stamp on the league. Faced with a growing chorus of players, fans, politicians and common citizens, Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers’ Owner Donald Sterling for life.

Sterling was also fined $2.5 million which in the grand scheme of things is small potatoes considering his worth is nearly $2 billion. It’s widely believed that Sterling will be forced to sell the team but based on his past, he won’t go quietly into the night. I expect a long, drawn-out process in the years to come unless he just decides it isn’t worth it.

Some are speculating that the franchise could fetch as much as $1 billion in a sale.

While I applaud Silver’s forceful action, it isn’t a day to celebrate. Yes, the NBA is ultimately better without Donald Sterling in it, but the damage has been done. Sports were often thought to be safe harbor from this kind of bigotry despite random cases in the past. This situation illustrates that we remain far from where we need to be.

Williams needs an improved performance to get the Nets' a game five win.Brooklyn (+3.5) at Toronto, Series Tied 2-2 – I have to give the Toronto Raptors some credit. I really thought after the game three loss that they were in trouble and would fold under the playoff pressure. The young Toronto team finished off the Nets with a 12-4 to end the game to even the series and take it back home for tonight’s game.

For the Nets to grab game five Deron Williams has to be better than four of twelve shooting. He scored just 10 points in game four and was 0-5 from three-point land. My gut feeling is that he plays significantly better tonight.

While both squads shot almost an identical 41% from the field, the difference ultimately was from the charity stripe. Toronto went 19 of 23 while the Nets were just 19 of 29. I think this is where the veteran leadership in Brooklyn kicks in; take the Nets and the 3.5 points.

Dallas (+6) at San Antonio, Series Tied 2-2 – I just don’t have a feel or this series. Just when I think the Spurs are ready to dominate and move on, the Mavericks come firing back. Even after a 20-point lead in game three, the Spurs still let it slip away but were able to pull out the victory.

Both teams were almost identical in the three-point shooting department in game three as they each hit on just 29% of their long-range shots. Ultimately the difference was better field goal and free throw shooting by San Antonio. If I’m Gregg Popovich, I’m concerned about Tony Parker. Again he struggled from the field and didn’t even attempt a three-point shot.

Parker’s poor shooting was offset by a 46-28 advantage in the paint and that’s something the Spurs must repeat. I like San Antonio to win, but I really like the Mavs getting the six points.

Portland (+5.5) at Houston, Blazers Lead 3-1 – If Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale was fighting for his job when the series was tied 1-1, then what must he be fighting for now? Granted the Rockets have dropped two overtime games, they’ve still lost three games total and one more ends a season that many had figured to be going much longer.

Houston had excellent balance in their scoring and dominated the paint to the tune of 68-30. While Portland didn’t exactly have the balance, they did have LaMarcus Aldridge who has dominated the series.

The Rockets were very good at home this year and they have to ride the crowd to a victory tonight but I really like Blazers getting the 5.5 points.

Sterling’ Comments Resonate In, Out of Basketball

Sterling
Sterling
Comments like those of Donald Sterling have no place in society.

For most of the tenure of Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers his team has played second-fiddle to the Los Angeles Lakers. Calling his teams ‘second-fiddle’ is being nice because the Clippers have pretty much been the laughing stock of the NBA for generations.

With a championship coach and an amazing team now assembled, Sterling seems to have finally put into place a team that can actually win a title. The effect has been amplified by the recent demise of the Lakers who share the same building and that’s about it.

Sterling’s world has suddenly come crashing down. His girlfriend, who is black and Mexican, allegedly recorded a conversation with him that was filled with racist remarks and overtones. The tabloid website TMZ is the one who released the tape. Sterling not only makes generalities but he also mentions Magic Johnson whom his girlfriend apparently had been photographed.

Sterling lectured her on why she shouldn’t post such things on Instagram and used far more inappropriate language than I will here. The question that has been asked repeatedly since this story broke is what will the team do?

Rivers
I fully expect Doc Rivers to rally his troops despite the controversy.

The Clippers’ team is coached by an African-American in Doc Rivers and has a roster that includes all African-American players with but one exception. There has been talk that the team could choose to not play in game four of their series with Golden State. After all, who would want to take the court and make money for a money who speaks of you this way?

LeBron James had very harsh words for Sterling saying “There’s no room for Donald Sterling in our league.” James also went further by saying he would actually sit out if his owner had said those things. I’ve always believed that players rise above this type of stuff especially in the playoffs. The goal is and always has been to win the championship and I believe that’s what the coaches and players will do.

With that said, would it surprise me if they chose not to play their next game or perhaps when the team returns home for game five? No, it wouldn’t simply because I understand how these men feel.

Ironically, Sterling was scheduled to receive an award from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP next month. To me that was surprising in and of itself because Sterling hasn’t exactly been known as someone to be associated with the organization. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t long ago that Sterling beat a court case brought against him by former employee and NBA great Elgin Baylor.

Baylor claimed age discrimination and harassment during the 22 years he worked for Sterling. He commented yesterday “Myself and other people of color were subjected to this mentality for over 20 years,” Baylor told ESPN. “I both witnessed and experienced it. What he said speaks for itself.”

It was not only players and other NBA personnel commenting yesterday because as usual Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson both took advantage of the opportunity to get some attention. Sharpton’s group may protest outside of Staples’ Center prior to game five. It angers me that these men always wait for something like this to come up when there are thousands of examples of racism of all kinds that happen each and every day.

The fact that Sterling’s comments have been politicized outside of the NBA is not surprising and not undeserved, but I can’t help but wonder why more attention hasn’t been called to this man in the past. With so many essentially saying “I’m not surprised because…” I can’t help but lay some blame on the NBA and their owners for allowing this guy to continue to exist in the league.

New Commissioner Adam Silver has his first real issue to deal with so let’s see how he handles it and more importantly, how the Clippers handle it.