Adam Silver took over as Commissioner for the NBA back in February. With just over two months in the position he is now faced with making a decision that could affect the support of the Los Angeles Clippers and the league in general. By now everyone is aware and has heard about the recent disparaging comments against African-Americans allegedly made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling in a private conversation with his bi-racial, 20-something year old girlfriend, V. Stiviano. The 15 minute secretly taped argument between Sterling and Stiviano, was leaked to TMZ and Deaspin.
It is crucial that Commissioner Silver takes strong action against Sterling as it is well-known that he has had a previous reputation for having a racist attitude about African-Americans. Elgin Baylor who served as GM for the Clippers for 22 years has said that Sterling has a plantation mentality. He quoted Sterling’s response when it was suggested that he consider hiring an African-American coach. Sterling’s unapologetic response was, “Personally, I would like to have a White coach coaching poor Black players.” Baylor’s attorney Carl Douglass alleged that Sterling threw gum at him across a table in a meeting. Sterling has also been accused of refusing to rent to his apartments to Blacks and Latinos, stating that “Black people smell and are not clean.” His remarks about Mexicans are just as bad, “…they sit around smoke and drink all day.”
Commissioner Silver’s hands are somewhat tied and may be limited in what action he can legally take in punishing Donald Sterling. Social media has been on fire with opinions and reactions from a host of NBA players and the likes of Magic Johnson (a subject in the recorded conversation), Michael Jordan, President Obama, Donald Trump, Doc Rivers (the African-American coach of the Clippers), and thousands of fans. This has also been the topic on radio and televisions sports shows, newspaper columns, and Internet blogs. The consensus has been that Sterling should not be allowed to own an NBA team or at the very least be suspended and fined. Already, some of the Clippers major sponsors have pulled their support of the team. Kudos to Carmax, Virgin America, State Farm, AquaHydrate, and Kia Motors with more to possibly follow, which could definitely hurt Sterling’s pockets. If fans boycott Clippers games, that too will affect ticket sales.
According to ABC, and announcement will be made tomorrow April, regarding the actions to be taken against Sterling. The Clippers play the Golden State Warriors tomorrow night in Game 5, Round 1 of the NBA playoffs in Los Angeles. Th series is tied 2-2.