On Tuesday, the NBA took a monumental swipe at racism.
The repugnant and ignorant words of Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald Sterling created a firestorm this weekend after he was recorded saying several racist remarks to his girlfriend. In the tirade, the 80-year-old billionaire told his girlfriend that she was banned from appearing in public with black people, but could, however, sleep with Magic Johnson.
Only a couple days after the audiotape was released, NBA commission Adam Silver responded swiftly, banning Sterling for life from the NBA and fining him $2.5 million. The NBA’s owners are almost certainly going to vote to force him to sell his team in the coming days.
Immediately after the audio was released, stars from across the NBA quickly responded in their disgust for an owner who was willing to profit off of a team full of African Americans, yet who was overtly racist.
Had commissioner Silver not banned him from the game, the players would have boycotted the playoffs and refused to play. Silver clearly had no choice but to ban Sterling, yet, regardless he made a statement that is so radical from what the culture of American sports was nearly 70 years ago, that it should make the hair stand up on your neck.
As we rewind 67 years in America, we see Jackie Robinson taking the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American athlete to compete in the Major League of Baseball. He changed the face of history. As he stepped on that field he courageously withstood slander and hatred and he totally changed the future for Lebron James and PK Subban.
He took the field in the face of a white America that hated him and he responded like Martin Luther King would decades later — he refused to strike back. This week we saw the result of his courage. It’s no longer acceptable in the public sphere to publicize the warped worldview that you are better than another human being.
Silver’s response on Tuesday was a speech centuries in the making and a response we can be proud of in North America for the coming centuries.
All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.