29 April 2014

Why Adam Silver made the right call on Donald Sterling

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Today was the first major test of NBA commissioner Adam Silver since he replaced David Stern back in February and in my opinion, he passed with flying colors. The topic at hand was the league's punishment of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in the wake of racist comments of his made public over the weekend. Silver announced in New York in the wake of confirming that the voice on the tapes was indeed Sterling's the league has banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and Silver will urge the Board of Governors to act to force the sale of the team.

Here's video of Silver's announcement of the penalties from earlier today.

In my opinion, Silver had to come down hard on Sterling, his comments were inexcusable and his history of racism, among other deplorable activities in his past, and there was no place in the Association for a man like him. However, the scale of the penalties was something I was not certain of.

There were some people that thought that the NBA should terminate Sterling's ownership, if not the franchise altogether, and essentially take over the team. However, I was not certain that the NBA had the authority under the league's constitution to directly remove him from his ownership. And you also had some people that thought that the league should allow the players to become free agents this offseason no matter their contract situations, but that was something I felt would be pretty risky of the league to do.

But I think Silver made the right call with the penalties handed out. Banning Sterling for life was a strong move, there was no way he was ever going to be able to associate himself with the Clippers and nor should he. This is like what Major League Baseball did in regards to former Reds owner Marge Schott but only magnified and much harsher. The fine was strong too considering it was the maximum allowable under the league constitution.

And working with the Board of Governors to try to force Sterling to sell the team is the right move. This is different than what I described earlier as here, the league would be forcing Sterling to sell, providing Silver gets the support of 75% of Sterling's fellow owners, but not outright taking the team from him and terminating his ownership.

But whether they will get Sterling to sell is a whole different question and he told Jim Gray that the team is not for sale nor will he be selling the team. Sterling is known for being litigious and he will certainly try to fight this out in court but in the meantime, he is only hurting himself and delaying the inevitable. After all, there is no question that the team would fetch him at least a billion big ones and there are already some buyers interesting, most notably and ironically Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners in the wake of Johnson being mentioned in the tapes.

This was going to be a defining moment for Adam Silver and in my opinion, he has passed the test. And the reaction from league ranks has been overwhelmingly positive.

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