Way to go, Adam Silver.
Early this afternoon, the newly-minted NBA commissioner took the kind of stand against racism in professional sports that has been needed for decades. In one of the most controversial and newsworthy situations to ever face a professional sports commissioner, Silver handled himself like a seasoned veteran, and in the process did exactly what needed to be done.
Following the now-confirmed comments by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, in which he scolded friend V. Stiviano for bringing African-Americans to “his” games among other things, Silver levied the single-largest punishment ever for a professional sports executive. Along with a $2.5 million dollar fine, and banning Sterling from the Clippers organization for life, Silver will use his considerable power to urge the league’s Board of Governors, which consists of the league’s 30 owners, to force Sterling to sell his controlling interest in the team. A three-fourths majority vote is needed for that to take place.
And I sure hope that not just three-fourths, but every single one of those owners votes to remove Donald Sterling from professional basketball for good. Because as current NBA All-Star and four-time league MVP LeBron James put it, “There’s no place for people like Donald Sterling in the NBA.”
In the phone conversations released by TMZ, Sterling and Stiviano engage in argument after the latter, a half-black, half-Hispanic 20-something uploaded a picture to Instagram showing her with Hall of Fame basketball player, and African-American celebrity Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
During one segment of the almost nine minute conversation Sterling tells Stiviano, “You can sleep with them [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that, and not to bring them to my games.”
Sterling has finally been brought to justice after more than 30 years of closet racism that included illegally refusing to rent units to minorities in the apartment complexes he owned, being the defendant in nine separate racial discrimination suits, and running a “plantation-like” organization according to former Clippers executive and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor.
Unlike the late Marge Schott, who owned the Reds from 1984-1999, but was banned by Major League Baseball from 1996-1998 for supporting policies of former Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Sterling’s punishment will fit the crime.
While there is no room for racism in any cross-section of society, there should be zero tolerance of it in the arena of sports.
Congratulations Adam Silver, you did well.
Collegian Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.