On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver dropped the hammer on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling following an investigation of the authenticity of Sterling’s racist comments that were caught on tape.
Silver announced that Sterling would be fined $2.5 million and banned for life from the NBA. He’ll have to relinquish ownership of the Clippers and sell the team. Sterling, who said in an audio recording obtained by TMZ that he didn’t want his girlfriend to be seen at Clippers games with African-Americans, will never step foot in an NBA arena ever again.
In his first season as commissioner, Silver handled the Sterling situation with the poise of someone who has been in the commissioner chair for decades. The NBA’s investigation was swift and punishment appropriately severe. Silver has drawn praise from the league and the media for his response.
Silver succeeded where former commissioner David Stern did not. Frankly, someone with Sterling’s track record should have been fined, suspended, or banned from the league years ago.
This is not Sterling’s first instance of racial intolerance. In 2009, the real estate magnate settled a lawsuit (totaling over $2.5 million) alleging discrimination against minorities at apartment complexes owned by Sterling throughout Los Angeles.
This was after a federal lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Sterling of, according to the Times, “stating his preference not to rent to Latinos because ‘Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building’” and accusing him of saying “black tenants smell and attract vermin.”
Despite the lifetime ban, Sterling is still clinging to the Clippers. The rest of the league’s owners must reach three-quarters vote to remove Sterling and force a sale of the team. While owners throughout the league have condemned Sterling and voiced their support of Silver’s ruling, it may take more than a vote to permanently expel Sterling.
Before Silver made the announcement about the fine and lifetime ban, Sterling reportedly told Fox News that he has no plans on selling the team, and the 80-year old owner could delay things significantly—perhaps even until after the lifetime ban expires— by fighting the NBA’s decision in court.
Vermin can be pesky to get rid of—it can take months, years, multiple extermination treatments and vigilant watch to completely de-vermin a home. While it may take time to finish the effort, Silver managed to bring a quick and just resol1ution to the Sterling situation in just a few days.
The league—and our society—is better off without rats like Donald Sterling.