Call him whatever low-lying name in the book you want, but Donald Sterling is an embarrassment.
He is not only an embarrassment to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and professional sports as a whole, but also an embarrassment to the melting pot of the world we live in.
This past weekend Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner, was reported to have made racial comments about a photo his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, recently posted to Instagram.
The photo, which saw Stiviano posing with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and NBA legend Magic Johnson, was one Sterling didn’t approve of.
It has since been deleted, but not before a recording was made in which a male voice said, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed Sterling was the individual who uttered the racist comments. Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million — the maximum allowed under the NBA’s constitution — and levied a lifetime ban against him.
Although Silver does not have the hierarchical power to force Sterling to sell the team he has owned for the last 33 years, if three-fourths of the league’s other 29 owners agree with Silver, Sterling must sell the Clippers.
“The alleged statement made by Mr. Sterling were deplorable and cannot be tolerated. Bigotry and hatred have no place in the NBA or any arena of our society,” Silver told reporters in New York City.
Silver, whom I had felt had acted rather soft in dealing with other NBA incidents since he replaced David Stern as commissioner on Feb. 1, finally took a stand — a stand that sends the right message.
Although he will still profit from selling the Clippers, Sterling’s eventual ousting will shed a sliver of light on the black cloud his comments have brought upon the Clippers, the NBA and professional sports.
In light of their owner’s egregious comments, the Clippers, who are duking it out with the Golden State Warriors in a Western Conference quarter-final playoff series, started the healing process by adopting the unified slogan, ‘We Are One.’
It’s a slogan that I, and I’m sure others, approve of.
There is no doubt it will take time for the wounds that have been felt by Sterling’s comments to heal, but his remarks will not be lost on many.
I may be Caucasian and I may not watch a lot of NBA action, but as a sports fan and a human being, Sterling’s racist comments were both unexpected and appalling.
However, my question to the NBA is, if Sterling is being chastised for his racial remarks, why isn’t Jay-Z being held to a similar standard?
Although the superstar rapper no longer owns the Brooklyn Nets, he previously owned a share of the team, pumping out, what some might consider, racist rap lyrics in the process.
Should he face some form of punishment because of his previous ties to the NBA?
Jay-Z is no longer an owner of the Nets, so I guess he’s off the hook, but I’m curious to know why.
As it stands, however, at least the NBA got it right with the punishment dolled out to Sterling.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks