NBA Commissioner Adam Silver today rained down on disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with all the power in his being.
Predictably to most, Silver banned the reprehensible Sterling from the NBA for life for making ugly and hurtful racist comments and also paved the way for his ouster by strongly urging the owners to vote him out. There needs to be 22 votes for Sterling to be stripped of his team and it’s hard to imagine that any owner will vote in his favor if they have any moral fiber in their body.
If the owners’ vote somehow goes in favor of Sterling, the NBA might as well shut down for good. That’s why a unanimous vote of owners is likely to occur.
Silver also fined Sterling the maximum $2.5 million allowed by the NBA by-laws, though for someone with Sterling’s supposed wealth that’s like tossing a few pennies into the Salvation Army cup at Christmas time.
As I watched the press conference this afternoon, Silver turned back the clock by going all Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis on Sterling. Landis, of course, was the baseball commissioner who banned eight Chicago White Sox players for life amid allegations that they threw the 1919 World Series and they forever were known as the “Black Sox.”
Silver spoke from the heart and with angry conviction. He made it clear to all those listening that Sterling’s racist remarks have no place in the NBA and our society, which has been trying so hard to come together as one as a people even though we seem to often take a step forward, then follow it up by going back two. It’s obvious to me that Silver wants Sterling out of the NBA like, say, yesterday.
Immediate reaction from NBA players, fans and even other owners was swift, all unanimous in their praise of the eloquent Silver. Sterling, who is 81, will likely live his remaining years in humiliation and out of the public eye as he’ll go down notoriously in history.
Hopefully the Clippers players and coaches can get back to business. Silver’s actions also should temper what figured to be a volatile situation tonight in Los Angeles, where the Clippers are hosting Golden State in the always-pivotal fifth game of their first-round series, which is tied at 2-all. I expect fans to now attend, though there surely will still be some protests, even though it’s clear Sterling will no longer have any say on what happens with the team.
Silver has only been on the job for a few months as he followed David Stern, who wielded more power for a commissioner than any of the other major sports. It was obvious how much Silver detested Sterling’s comments as his voice almost was broken with anger. He made the right decision. The only decision.