UPDATE 4/29: Donald T. Sterling banned for life from games, practices and from Clipper facilities, fined $2.5 million and the NBA will attempt to force a sale of the team. NBA commissioner Adam Silver though dodged questions about Sterling’s past racist practices, ESPN is reporting “widespread support” for Silver’s decision. A couple of thoughts:
- Silver did the right thing in responding to this latest incident. He went for the maximum fine and ban and initiating steps to force a sale. It’s unlikely that he’d move on that without a reasonable expectation of success in convincing the other owners. That’s a good thing.
- Donald T. Sterling is going to make out like a bandit if the sale happens. Forbes valued the Clippers at $575M, and will likely go for higher than that in an open market.
- This is a recognition, well known until David Stern gave the Clippers Chris Paul, that the franchise under Sterling is toxic and is the NBA’s dead end. There was some amnesia after the Gift of Paul, but this episode is just a reminder of Sterling’s awful history as an owner, and his consistently racist and paternalistic attitudes towards Clippers players. It’s no surprise he’s a “Slumlord Billionaire”. Players aren’t in LA to play for Sterling, they are there for the Clippers players and coaches. The recent success of the Clippers can be attributed to Sterling getting the heck out of the way and laying low.
- We’re here at this point 1) because Sterling’s comments were so bad that the other NBA owners couldn’t be caught defending Sterling, even if it were in their long-term interests to limit the commissioner’s powers and 2) NBA players past and present demonstrated, took to social media and the media to express their disgust and really considered major disruption to the NBA’s business as usual though boycotts. If the NBA failed to act in a way that the players would support, we could have seen players vote with their feet in free agency, top coaches refusing to sign the the Clippers, and more sponsors withdrawing from the Clippers. And that, the NBA cannot have for newly nationally popular franchise.
- You should really be following Dave Zirin (@edgeofsports), his coverage and blunt reality checks on the shortcomings of this process is a wakeup call.
- Oh and by the way, the settlement in Sterling’s housing discrimination suit was just $2.73M paid out by his Sterling’s insurance companies. Gives you a sense of where racial justice is at in the US when the difference between being a racist and acting racist is just $230k or 9.2%.
We here at PickedLastSports.com is all about experimentation. In the spirit of that, instead of writing about what an awful owner Donald T. Sterling we instead hosted a webchat on the same topic. With special guest and die-hard Clippers fan John de Leon we start with a recap of the controversy, delve deeper in to Sterling’s past racism/sexism/classism/being a slumlord, and response of the players, fans, and the league. Check it out: