Too often in sports, racist remarks are brushed under the carpet. They are dealt with ‘in-house’ or given a token suspension, which in no way is proportionate to the vulgarity and hurtfulness of the words used. In this case, the NBA cannot let this happen.
When the President of the United States says something is not ok, the NBA needs to act on it. In the short-term, Adam Silver, in the middle of his first major crisis as commissioner of the league has done well.
Conversations with the players union and other owners are the places to start. Suspending Sterling for the playoff game is also a step in the right direction, but it needs to go further. Quite simply, Sterling is a cancer to the league and Silver needs to eradicate him by any means necessary.
In the days before Chris Paul was given to Sterling by then-commissioner David Stern, the owner of the Clippers simply didn’t care for his team. He received no publicity apart from the occasional draft lottery appearance.
The team was a loser and Sterling was generally treated with disdain by most of the NBA family, including Clippers fans. In light of the most recent comments, which again were purportedly made by Sterling, it appears not only Clippers fans have left Sterling to fall on his own sword.
There were a slew of media members of all races expressing their disdain for Sterling this weekend and atop it all were reports that the Clippers seriously considered not playing the game against the Warriors yesterday.
Ultimately the players opted for a classy silent protest where they practiced in non-branded shirts and then sported black tape during the game. This, in non uncertain-way communicated to the watching world that the team would not accept Sterling or his comments in any form. The owner has lost the team, and when that happens there really is no way back.
However, it is not always that simple. Sterling is a stubborn man and on top of that a businessman, he is not going to let the team be prised away from him for anything less than a fair price. In addition there are employees of the team that need their jobs and simply cannot afford to give those up as a form of protest.
Dislodging Sterling will be no simple task but the NBA cannot deal with the bad publicity that acknowledging these remarks and doing nothing would bring. Silver may only have been in the job for a few months, but he knows what Donald Sterling is like. No more second chances, he simply has to go.