Memo To NBA, Silver! Ban Racist Sterling For Good

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experts-disagree-on-whether-nba-can-force-donald-sterling-to-sell-the-clippersIt’s really sad that racism still exist in America. It’s really sad that racism exist in a league where the majority of players are African-American. It’s really unfortunate that we are talking about a racist instead of the excitement of these NBA playoffs, overshadowed by a man whose disdainful voice was heard in an auto recording obtained by TMZ.

The unverified audio of a racist rant of Clippers owner Donald Sterling allegedly spewing bigoted, racially insensitive comments during an argument with his girlfriend is shameful and repugnant. It comes as no surprise that he chastised his significant other V. Stiviano for associating with black people, and told her in that disturbing conversation not to bring them to his games. The core problem for the NBA is that Sterling, if this is his voice, gives the NBA a bad image.

If the NBA is to ever move forward, it must remove Sterling from the league for good to protect its brand. If he’s not banned, it will only ignite widespread outrage, worse than what it is now. There is a feeling Adam Silver, meeting his first challenge as NBA commissioner, will make a full investigation and take appropriate action against Sterling immediately. It’s a sense that — you know, Silver must decide whether or not to punish Sterling. This is very serious, and the league’s new leader must take it seriously.

There was certainly nothing surprising about Sterling’s rampant racism and egregious behavior, but the NBA powers failed to punish him, allowing a racist to get away with it. He should have been banned from the locker room for his views on African-Americans and minorities a long time ago — filled with bigotry and animosity, but ex-NBA commissioner David Stern ignored Sterling for more than a decade and the league shielded him and failed to protect its reputation by standing by a horrendous racist. He should have been pushed out the door and forced out as owner the way Major League Baseball stripped Marge Schott of her ownership of the Cincinnati Reds in 1999 after making a number of comments about blacks, gays and Jews. It was almost 33 years ago in 1981 when the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers purchased the franchise, abruptly moving his team from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984, a city that already had a beloved basketball franchise.

There’s been a lot of criticism for Sterling and for the Clippers, since he bought the Clippers, better known as one of the worst owners in sports. We can establish the kind of man he is by now after hearing a recording which clearly reflected his views, beliefs and feelings, and sadly the league knew about Sterling’s bad behavior and constant accusations of racial discrimination. The 81-year-old has come under fire after a racist rant, which is far worse than his team’s failures in recent memory as a team owner. There’s much to dislike about a man who was sued twice by the Justice Department for discriminatory housing practices by refusing to rent to African-Americans, Latinos and families with children in apartment complexes he owns throughout Los Angeles. He’s been sued for sexual harassment by a former employee, a case that was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, and then 22-year general manager Elgin Baylor sued him for discrimination and wrongful termination, alleging that he had a “plantation mentality.”

While there should be zero tolerance for racism, especially when there are about 75 percent of African American players, Stern never had the guts to take him down. But now it’s time for Silver to demand Sterling steps down as owner, and eventually force him to sell the team, which won’t be easy when Sterling doesn’t work for Silver. The commissioner works for the owners, but he does have the power to suspend and fine a scumbag. That’s not good enough, and it would be a slap in the face to African-Americans and minorities.

I have no sympathy for Sterling. His racist remarks are abhorrent and unpleasant, and everywhere today people are disgusted and outraged by this — from celebrities to hard-working fans who invest their time and money, angrily taking to social media to reprimand a man who is a disgrace to humanity. He has provoked an angry reaction from rap legend Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Keith Olbermann and President Obama. There is no place for a racist in the NBA, just as there is no place for the racism of an 80-year old mogul worth $1.9 million. The league is investigating the audio, but given Sterling’s reprehensible past, owners and the commissioner must end ties with a man who has embarrassed the NBA with his disgraceful comments from a private recording that somehow ended up in the hands of TMZ and was publicized for the world to hear Sterling’s vile racism.

It’s too repulsive not to call for a boycott, plan a protest walk-out and refuse to play the game, as players are outraged and have spoken bitterly about Sterling’s racist comments, understanding he’d make money off of them as long as he is the owner. During the Clippers’ exciting first-round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, however, the team is upset and mentally distracted upon hearing Sterling’s comments, and held a silent protest prior to Game 4 against the Warriors on Sunday. They took off their jackets and placed them at mid-court during warm-ups, wearing long-sleeved shirts with them turned inside out as the team’s logo and name was not visible, basically sending a message that they play for themselves and not for Sterling. Baron Davis, former Clippers star, wanted to share his experiences with listeners in hopes of telling a story about a man who is indeed a racist.

Strangely enough, Stern tolerated Sterling’s racial prejudice, and because there’s a recording of him uttering hate-filled, vulgar and odious comments, the NBA must kick him out of the league for life. With the way things are shaking up in these playoffs, particularly in an excitable and unpredictable Western Conference, the Clippers are on track to reach the NBA Finals. If the Clippers advance deeper in these playoffs behind two stars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, it would seem awkward with Sterling sitting courtside at Staples Center. If the team is to put this behind them, even though it’s hurtful and emotionally tough to deal with, Sterling cannot be seen anywhere in the building or in the presence of his players. The other strange twist to this story is the fact that Stiviano is being sued by Sterling, who claims she embezzled more than $1.8 million, but it’s still of little significance as Sterling’s racist remarks in the recording is much more serious.

“We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered,” Roeser said in a statement.” We do know that the woman on the tape — who we believe released it to TMZ — is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even.’ Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them.”

It’s no surprise if Roeser is covering up for his boss. He does know Sterling has a reputation for being a racist, right? I’m sure he does, but he’s kissing his boss’ ass. I’m sure he knows this man allegedly runs his business as if he’s a slave owner and not an NBA owner. I’m sure he knows he works for a worthless, old clown no one wants around in the league. So where does the NBA go from here? I’d think the league has no choice but to ban Sterling for life. The players are predominantly black and are being paid by mostly white plutocrats. The players suddenly can stand up for what’s right and come together to run Sterling out of the league, incensed and disgusted by his racist comments, quickly reacting and responding to his ignorance. If that isn’t enough, corporate sponsors have dropped the Clippers, terminating their relationship with the franchise in the wake of Sterling’s heartless remarks.

With the players furious and greatly bothered by these comments, the Clippers and the rest of the league may stage a protest and forfeit the rest of the playoffs if Silver doesn’t hit Sterling with the lifetime ban. This is Silver’s toughest challenge since taking over as commissioner, forced to make a decision that should not be difficult and everyone, including myself, believe he will take accountability and send a strong message by throwing Sterling out. One can only hope Silver will force him to sell the team he’s owned for more than three decades.

Silver, I believe, will move quickly to strip the Clippers from Sterling, to wave goodbye to someone who doesn’t deserve to associate with a league that is diverse and international. With everyone watching, Sterling can take his beliefs and dislike for minorities somewhere else. How could you, as a consumer and fan, patronize a racist man’s product? How could you, as a player and coach, work for a man filled with hatred? How can Sterling sit courtside when he wants nothing to do with them and only wants to make money?

It would be an absolute waste to boycott when they’ve come too far and worked extremely hard during a fantastic playoff run, all because of a racist who shouldn’t even be the owner of the Clippers. It’s all on Doc Rivers to keep his players focused on playing the game, handling a difficult situation with much class and professionalism. Believe me, he’s just as upset as his players, and the Clippers are fortunate to have Rivers, an African-American coach who led the Celtics to a championship in 2008. As the leader he is, Rivers met with angry Clippers players, and was able to refocus the team in which they beat the Warriors.

So again, Sterling is in trouble because of his bigoted views and may not only have destroyed his image but may be forced to hang up a “FOR SALE SIGN” outside Staples Center as the NBA needs to send him packing.

We can only hope the NBA finally disconnects itself from Sterling who needs to stay away and take his racism someone else. There’s no place for Sterling.

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