By Waqas Bhutta’15
The Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling fouled out with the release of an audio tape containing racist comments he made talking privately to his girlfriend.
Sterling was charged with a lifetime ban plus a $2.5 million fine for the racist comments he made in the tape by the National Basketball Association’s commissioner, Adam Silver.
The decision to ban Sterling was a good decision by Silver and is a step forward for the team and the fans. However, the NBA should push Sterling to sell the team to wipe off the stains he has left behind.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Donald Sterling scandal is that no one in the sport was surprised to hear that Sterling has been caught on tape expressing racist views.
It has been widely noted that Sterling has a history of racial discrimination. In 2009, Elgin Baylor, former Clippers’ general manager, accused Sterling of racial discrimination in an unsuccessful lawsuit. That same year, the Justice Department brought up a housing discrimination lawsuit, which Sterling paid $2.725 million to settle. In 2003, another lawsuit was filed, which accused Sterling of not to renting to Latinos because “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building.”
“Man, you could pull up his track record, as far as lawsuits and see that it’s not the first time that something like this has happened,” the Nets’ Shaun Livingston, a former Clipper, said in the New York Times. “As a player in this league and an African-American player, that’s very disappointing, upsetting.”
There’s a larger obligation here that needs to be addressed. The league has tolerated and protected Mr. Sterling for way too long. The new commissioner, Adam Silver, needs to make it clear that there’s no place in the league for owners with racist attitudes, whether or not they’re caught expressing them on tape.
On the tape Sterling said, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
Responding to the tape, the Clippers warmed up with their jerseys on inside out, before their playoff game, to hide the team’s logo.
Now, the NBA should seek to voice official disapproval by disciplining Sterling. The players association has voiced their approval of the NBA banning Mr. Sterling from attending playoff games this season.
According to CNN Money, over a dozen companies, including Virgin America, State Farm, Red Bull and Car Max terminated their sponsorships with the Clippers over the remarks. This adds to the urgency of the league to kick Sterling out because the league and the organization are losing their sponsorships, which means they are losing money.
Some have argued that taking on Sterling should not be the players’ and coaches’ responsibility. They believe that it should be Adam Silver’s and the owners’ duty. This is not necessarily true because the commissioner needs the power of the league to succeed. Silver will need his players, a mixture of all races, behind him as he prepares other owners in the league to move on Sterling, which could get ugly.
A two-thirds vote in favor of forcing Sterling to sell the team is needed by the 29 owners in the league.
“The owners I know are all color blind and they found that this behavior was outrageous, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t a unanimous vote,” Sacramento Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive said, according to ABC News. “I would be very surprised if that was not the case.”
Even though California law protects private speech, the truth about Donald Sterling’s comments illustrate his racism, which can’t be part of the NBA.
There need to be new laws that reflect the modern day, not to protect Donald Sterling, but to protect all of us. Because today, no place is safe, with the new advancements in technology.
Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million in 1981, and the team is now worth $575 million, according to Forbes magazine. Sterling can sell the team for a handsome amount and at the same time relieve the NBA of the problems he poses to the league.
Sterling’s fate is now in the hands of the owners, and the decision is undoubtedly going to impact the league overall.