Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No Time For A Parade

The NBA moved swiftly and exactly yesterday , banning Los Angelas Clippers owner, Donald Sterling for life from the Clippers/NBA and fining him 2.5 million for his racist comments uttered during a phone conversation with his mixed race girlfriend (She's part Black,Part Latina) Friday night in which he admonished her for posing on Instagram with Basketball legend Magic Johnson and other minorities to use his words...

This is just one small victory in the larger war...A lot of people are patting themselves on the back right now ,but I should remind you...There is no reason for a parade...There is still lots to be done.

Minutes after new  NBA commissioner Adam Silver banished Donald Sterling for life, the emails and tweets began to fly, conveying appreciation, relief, admiration, even glee. One statement stood out from the rest.

"We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins."

The message was attributed simply to "the Los Angeles Clippers." As if the Clippers and Sterling were two separate entities.

Let the cognitive dissonance subside, and appreciate that statement for what it is: a truly historic moment.

Donald T. Sterling, who ran his team like a ramshackle novelty store anyway, who refused to honor coaches' contracts, who balked at paying for an employee's cancer treatment, who paraded women through the locker room to gawk at his players, This same man who discriminated against blacks and Latinos in his apartment buildings and who has been a blight on the NBA for three decades, is at last effectively gone.

Under the terms of Commissioner Silver's edict, Donald Sterling can never set foot again in the Clippers' offices, or slouch in his courtside seat at Staples Center. He is barred from their practice court. He is expelled from the NBA's Board of Governors.

The actual separation of Sterling and the Clippers franchise will not come for some time, until the other NBA owners can vote to force a sale. The process could take a while. Sterling could challenge the decision. He could sue.

But in their message, the Clippers—the players, the coaches, the trainers, the mortified staffers and the demoralized executives—just declared their independence, with a hefty assist from Silver, who just secured his legacy after only three months on the job.

The Clippers could take the court to night as I write this, for a critical playoff game against the Golden State Warriors, with clear minds, knowing that justice had been served, that their league would not tolerate a racist owner.

"On this day, Adam Silver is not only the owners' commissioner, he is the players' commissioner, and we're proud to call him our commissioner," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is working with the players association.

A commissioner, like a president, does not get to choose the issues or the moments that define him. This crisis, which began when TMZ released an audiotape of Sterling making racist comments, threatened to tarnish Silver's tenure before it had really begun.

Adam Silver happily spent his first three months on the job campaigning for a higher age requirement, flirting with new ideas about the draft lottery and the playoffs, and pushing for greater transparency in officiating. In a time of labor peace and generally strong TV ratings, Silver was free to indulge in visionary thinking.
Then came the audiotapes—first nine minutes and then 15 minutes of rambling bigotry, paranoia, self-delusion and latent misogyny. It hit the NBA like an anvil, disrupting a riveting first round of playoffs, dealing Silver his first great test.

"When I first heard it, I was shocked," Silver said in his news conference. "I was hoping somehow that it was fraudulent or that it had been doctored, that possibly it wasn't indeed Donald Sterling."
The league's investigation was brief, the conclusions unambiguous: Yes, that was Sterling's voice. No, the tape had not been doctored. Sterling admitted to all of it, though without expressing any sense of remorse or regret, Silver said.

Give  credit to Commisioner Silver with acting swiftly and boldly. The lifetime ban and the $2.5 million fine represent the maximum penalties the NBA commissioner can levy under league bylaws. The rest is up to the owners, with a three-fourths majority vote required to force Sterling to sell.

But Silver spoke with absolute clarity: He wants Sterling gone, whatever it takes, and whatever the legal risks might be. It was an aggressive stand, delivered with a righteous fury rarely seen from the lawyerly Silver.

"The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful," Silver said. "That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage."

As he continued, Silver's tone grew edgier, angrier.

"I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations, and caused current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league," he said.

For now,I'll clap my hands...I have to admit...I thought that at best this guy was going to get a slap on the wrist....I am glad to be wrong...but there is no time for any parade.....There is lots of work to be done!

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