Adam Silver Is a Fucking Pimp

Donald Sterling was allowed to run his team in embarrassing fashion for all 30 years of the David Stern era.  And today, after less than 3 months on the job, Adam Silver swept away the festering boil and showed more spine than Stern ever did.

So much for the plantation mentality of the NBA.

Let’s do a quick rundown of Sterling’s despicable acts:

  • In the 1980’s, while interviewing Rollie Massimino while tanked and with a blonde on his arm, he asked Massimino why he thought he could coach those n—–s.
  • He once told his general manager, NBA legend Elgin Baylor, that he wanted a team of “poor black boys from the South…playing for a white coach.”
  • Several players complained that Sterling brought women into the locker room after games and said, “Look at those beautiful black bodies.”
  • He settled a housing discrimination lawsuit for $2.75 million saying that African-Americans were not clean and they smelled and that Hispanics laid around all day smoking and drinking.
  • He celebrated Black History Month…in March.  I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Technically speaking he did nothing wrong…well, except for the housing discrimination thing, but when you’re worth $2 billion, $2.75 million is a drop in the bucket.  Still, when you own a team in a league that is predominantly black, you might think the commissioner might want to lay down some discipline.  Instead he decided to get tougher on technical fouls, inflict a dress code and “suggest” that Allen Iverson might not want to release a rap album.

Priorities.

But today, 3 days after audio surfaced that revealed Sterling saying that he didn’t want his mistress to bring black people to his games, Silver brought down the hammer.  Sterling was banned for life, he was fined $2.5 million (the maximum allowable under the NBA Constitution), and Silver announced that he would seek a vote from the NBA’s owners to force Sterling to sell the team (he needs the vote of 22 of the remaining 29 owners).

After Sterling’s comments broke, players were unanimous in their condemnation, and even Michael Jordan said that Sterling didn’t belong in the league anymore.  Considering Jordan once supposedly said, “Republicans buy shoes too,” when asked to campaign against Jesse Helms in his home state, getting such a statement out of Jordan was monumental.

Had Stern been in charge every player that spoke out would’ve been fined or suspended.  Probably (cue Homer Simpson voice).

Today was a watershed moment in the NBA and in sports in general, and Adam Silver was introduced to the world as a commissioner the sports world can admire.  Considering he just assumed the mantel of “Best Commissioner in Sports” from Bud Selig, this isn’t saying much, but at least he’s not implementing borderline racist policies like his predecessor; or trying to short change brain damaged or dead football players like Roger Goodell; or telling the world that no one wants replay and pretending he wasn’t complicit in the steroid era like Bud Selig; or being Gary Bettman like Gary Bettman.

Unfortunately, while we stand and applaud Silver and the NBA in general, the events of the last few days reveal some unfortunate truths about the entire situation.

For starters, one of the suggestions was that the NBA could force Sterling into selling the team by making each player on the Clippers roster a free agent, which would decimate the team.  What no one really wants to say is that only 2 players currently on the roster are on the team without any choice.  One player was drafted, one was acquired by trade.  The rest either signed as free agents, arrived via sign and trades, or signed extensions (as did superstars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan).  Their coach – Doc Rivers – orchestrated a trade that sent him from Boston to the Clippers.  Donald Sterling has been a well-known racist and scumbag for years, at least as long as these guys have been in the league, and a quick Google search would’ve told these guys that Sterling is not a guy you want to play for.  They took more money to play for him.  At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, well, I struggle supporting these guys or their protest.

Then there’s the matter of a vote by the owners being required to force Sterling to sell the team.  My personal opinion is that most professional sports owners are among the worst people on earth, ranking right up there with corporate executives, stockbrokers, politicians and the French.  They’ll take money from bankrupt cities to pay for their stadiums; proclaim that they’re not making any money while refusing to open their books; negotiating on the pretense that the players are overpaid, even though no one pays to watch the crusty old white dude in the owner’s box; and most importantly, charge me $8 for a beer.  So while the owners were unanimous in their praise for Silver’s announcement today, is it really that difficult to imagine that 8 owners would read the tea leaves and fear for the precedent that a league forcing an owner to sell his team would set?  Saying you’re going to vote for something isn’t hard.  Actually voting to declare that the league may one day decide that you have to sell your team because you said something they didn’t like is another thing entirely.  Mark Cuban wasn’t wrong when he said that such a move was a slippery slope.

And then there’s perhaps the most uncomfortable aspect to Silver’s announcement today.  Donald Sterling, before he became an NBA owner and before he became a slumlord (although probably not before he became a racist), was a divorce and personal injury attorney.  As part of his settlement with the Justice Department, he paid almost $5 million in attorneys’ fees and costs, with the judge noting “Sterling’s’ scorched earth’ litigation tactics, some of which are described by the Plaintiffs’ counsel and some of which were observed by the Court. The Court has no difficulty accepting Plaintiffs’ counsel’s representations that the time required to be spent on this case was increased by defendant’s counsel’s often unacceptable, and sometimes outrageous conduct.”  Simply put, if you think Sterling is going to sell his team without a judge telling him to do so, I’ve got a basketball team in Los Angeles to sell you.

Finally, the Clippers will not come at a discount.  They’re a team with promise in one of the two biggest markets in the country.  According to Forbes, as of January 2014 they were valued at $575 million.  Sterling bought the team for $12 million.  The old despicable scumbag will be walking away with a lot of money.

So while we can watch today’s press conference and see a commissioner we can stand behind and breathe a sign of relief that the plague that is Donald Sterling may finally be going away, the reality is that this saga is far from over.  Today reminds you of the great things that sports can do, and the horrible things that sports allow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s