In an electrifying press conference at 2:00 Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver displayed compelling testicular fortitude in addressing the racial scandal swirling around LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. In no uncertain terms, Silver denounced the now-infamous, racially-inflammatory remarks of Sterling, and banned him for life from any involvement in any NBA function or role. He also levied the maximum fine of $2.5 million dollars against Sterling, and said the league would be pursuing a forced sale of the team to other ownership.
Legally, this is as far as they can go, and maybe further than they can go as the drama plays out when Sterling responds. Time and lawyers will tell whether Sterling’s personal property, namely the Clippers, can be pried from his odious ownership.
The important thing is that the new Commissioner showed a willingness to face and handle a problem of this enormity and offensiveness without flinching, something his predecessor was too absorbed with generating new revenue streams to undertake. Sterling’s appalling conduct and attitudes have been well-documented over decades, as well as his disrespectful parsimony towards his players, staff and facility. He bought the distressed franchise for pennies and has benefited hugely from the league’s increasing cache buoying the value of his investment.
Only eighty days into his new position, Silver came across as genuine and resolute, showing a human side that belies the frequent effete detachment of his business-suited counterparts in Major League Baseball and the NFL. His ire served as a lightning rod for the collective disgust and contempt felt nationally towards the unsavory perpetrator of this embarrassment, while also taking the pressure off the Clipper players and coach scalded by the situation in the midst of a hard-earned playoff run. However their season plays out, hopefully the team can get back to focusing on basketball as the series resumes tonight.
Questions like Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban’s over how far the league can go in disciplining owner infractions will be answered in time, and probably through the courts. In the meantime, it’s refreshing to see reprehensible conduct being addressed directly and decisively by at least one major league commissioner.
Mr. Silver, that was a slam dunk.
Image: Courtesy of: http://redsarmy.com/2014/03/13/the-new-commish-is-lying-right-to-our-faces/