In another twist in the Sterling Saga Donald Sterling filed a 32 page response to the NBA suspension & forced sale of his franchise while his estranged wife Shelly tries to sell the team before the owners vote on the NBA sanctions on June 3. Clippers Owner Donald Sterling made an almost apology stating “I am not a racist”. He further stated that he hopes the other NBA owners would forgive his transgression and reconsider taking the team away from him. His wife vowed to fight any attempt to take away her 50% of the team which could tie the case up in court for years. The NBA could bypass the fight by simply de-certifying the team thereby allowing the Sterlings to keep the Clippers, they just wouldn’t be an NBA team.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took Strong action against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling by banning him for life. With this decision, the NBA has illustrated that there is no place for racism in sports. Actually, there is no place for racism anywhere. We all know that there is racism in every society. It’s about time we as a society take a stand against racism, everywhere it is exercised, whether it be in speech, in actions or in attitudes.
We live in a democratic society. We do have freedom of speech but speech that harms still has consequences. Yelling fire in a theater or saying you have a bomb at an airport (even if it’s a joke) or standing in front of a crowd and advocating violence or mayhem have life altering consequences. Donald Sterling is banned from involvement with a team he owns. He may end up losing the team. He will still be able to profit from its sale. So, in this case, the punishment does fit the crime.
We must, however, do more than merely punish racists. We must educate them. Racism is a symptom of ignorance and the best cure for ignorance is education, not punishment. Will Donald Sterling learn from this episode in his life? It’s hard to say. I hope he will. I hope he will become educated on the struggles of the minorities he defamed. I hope he will learn from his mistake and go forward with a more enlightened attitude. I said enlightened not tolerant. Being tolerant is not being enlightened.
The lifetime banning means that Sterling cannot attend any NBA games or practices, cannot be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any Business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He is also barred from attending any NBA Board of Governors meetings and participating in any other league activity. Sterling, can still own the team and cannot be forced to sell it unless ¾ of the NBA Board of Governors vote to force Sterling to sell his stake in the franchise.
It would be difficult for Sterling to keep the team unless he had someone else entirely run it under the rules spelled out by his ban. It is unlikely that a man of Sterling’s wealth and ego would do that, just as it is unlikely that the NBA Board of Governors will vote to allow him to keep the team. Sterling will, however, make a hefty profit should he decide to sell it. The team, which he bought over 25 years ago for 112 million dollars, has a current market value of between 500 million and one billion dollars.
Donald Sterling may go down in history as a racist but it’s hard to judge a person’s life by one particular act. I know this isn’t the first time that he was called a racist but I have a problem with the NAACP, who was among the first to condemn his rant, taking away his lifetime achievement award. He must have done some good things in his life to deserve the award. If he was an acknowledged racist for a long time, why was he given the Lifetime Achievement Award in the first place? If it was because he gave them a lot of money then there is something wrong with that. That would mean that the NAACP, like many other organizations in the world, give people awards for donating a lot of money, which in effect, means they would be selling out. People who donate large sums of money to get an award or a building named after them are not donating the money for the right reason. Organizations that accept money in exchange for an award or a name on a building are not accepting the money for the right reasons.
Donald Sterling was wrong when he went into a racist rant. If Donald Sterling really had these feelings for a long time and voiced and acted on them often, then, the NBA is also wrong for waiting this long to do something about it. The NAACP is wrong for accepting money from him. And, amidst Court decisions that continue to dismantle affirmative action, America is wrong for thinking that racism magically went away just because we elected an African American President.
In True Faith,
The Prophet of Life
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