Sports: NBA bans Donald Sterling for life

Image Credit: Bleacher Report

Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday April 29th, 2014

Dan Calabrese

Swift.

That didn't take long. After an "investigation," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has announced that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned for life from the NBA, in addition to being fined $2.5 million. All this for telling his girlfriend (not to be confused with his wife) that he didn't like her bringing black people to the games with her.

This means he can't attend practices or games, and can't take part in the governance of the NBA. He still owns the team, but it appears the league can take steps to force him to sell.

Fox Sports has the video of Silver's announcement:

Now by all accounts, Sterling is a horrible owner and a horrible man. I have no interest in defending his character, nor could I come up with a defense if I wanted to.

But let's talk about the process here.

First, the things Sterling said were, he thought, being said in private to a person with whom he had a personal relationship. He did not know he was being recorded. It was not his intention to say them for public consumption. But they were leaked, and he is now being banned for the things he said - he thought - in private.

Are you OK with that? Would you want to pay a price like this for the worst thing you ever said when you thought you were speaking in private?

Second, if the league can take away a man's team because he says things that are "hurtful and offensive," who gets to decide what's hurtful and offensive? Are there rules that clearly define this? Or is it just whatever is the prevailing thinking of the moment?

Third, how thorough was this "investigation" that apparently took two days? And did the investigation include the question of Sterling's rights in being recorded without his knowledge, and having that recording given to the media?

There is no doubt in my mind the NBA, and especially the Clippers and their fans, will be better off without Donald Sterling. And I hate the things he said.

But I don't like this. We're getting way too quick in this country to simply bum-rush people out of their livelihoods because of a position they took or a thing they said. However big a racist jerk Donald Sterling may be, this is dangerous.

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