Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
For a man that has only been on the job for three months, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver cemented part of his legacy with his punishment of Donald Sterling.
In a move that is unmatched in the history of American professional sports, Silver has suspended Donald Sterling for life from the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA due to the audio tape released by TMZ Sports that revealed him to be racist against minorities.
In addition to the lifetime ban, Silver fined Sterling the maximum amount of $2.5M. Most importantly, Silver has set a plan in motion to force a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers by Sterling. According to NBA bylaws, the rest of the NBA owners can remove Sterling by a 3/4 vote. While Silver doesn’t currently know the number of owners that will vote “yes”, he anticipates that he will have the numbers and will be able to strip Sterling of his ownership.
So what does a lifetime ban look like? Well, Sterling will not be able to attend any NBA games or practices, board of governors meetings, or be part of any business or personnel decisions for life.
First off, let’s applaud Adam Silver for having the will and the guts to enact this plan. This is the right move; however, it will prove to be the most difficult road for the NBA. There is little doubt that Sterling, who has been in court rooms litigating for most of his adult life, is going to sue the league over this decision and will attempt to keep his beloved Clippers. Sterling has nothing to lose at this point, considering that everything has been stripped away from him by the league. I would fully expect that it will be months before the NBA is able to conduct a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Let’s also acknowledge that the timing of this ban was best for all parties involved. While tonight will certainly be an emotional night at Staples Center, I believe that it will be more of a statement of unity than anything else. The Clippers players are now out there by themselves. The NBA is your owner. You are no longer tied to Donald Sterling. Show the NBA and the world what you are capable of and go win a ballgame.
Lastly, let’s get to Donald Sterling and this ban. Donald Sterling is the scum of the earth and he got what was coming to him. The NBA and it’s owners have swept his racist behavior under the rug for far too long and they knew it. They didn’t think it was going to come back and bite them. They figured that he’d die the same miserable man with his miserable team, wasting away in the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, David Stern made Sterling a legitimate owner when he gift wrapped Chris Paul to the Clippers after he had vetoed a better trade between the Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets.
David Stern was the one person who kept Donald Sterling relevant and in the NBA. He made Sterling’s franchise relevant for the first time ever by screwing over the Lakers and the Hornets in the process. Stern lined Sterling’s pockets as he continued to be his curmudgeonly, racist self the whole time. So, as much as I blame Sterling, and his actions were absolutely beyond reprehensible, let’s remember the man who kept Sterling around the NBA this long and made him a more prominent figure than he should have ever been.
Props to Adam Silver for disassociating yourself and the league from Donald Sterling and for not acting like your predecessor, David Stern. One can only hope that you bring this Sterling situation to a close and find a way to strip him of his owners once and for all. The NBA and the world will be a much better place without Donald Sterling as an owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.