Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The LA Clippers Debacle

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
It’s a monumental day in sports, namely the NBA.  Recently installed commissioner Adam Silver responded with a heavy hammer against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, after the owner made blatantly ignorant and racist statements in a recording made by his girlfriend.  Silver reacted by banning Sterling from the NBA for life and a $2.5 million dollar fine (the maximum allowed).  Additionally, Silver will do everything in his power to force Sterling to sell the franchise.

The punishment was quite severe, and rightfully so, but I have mixed feelings on the subject.  I’m not sure anything below will be concise in reflecting my thought process, but in a confusing situation, confusion takes hold and makes points difficult to make.  We’ll give it a try, though.

I am not a fan of censorship.  Whether we agree with someone or not, they have the right to their opinion.  I’m disgusted and deeply offended by Sterling’s racist comments.  I was offended by ESPN reporter Chris Broussard regarding comments he made in 2013 against homosexuality.  Heck, I’m offended whenever anyone uses terms like “white trash” and other ignorant and foolish statements regarding sexuality or race.  The simple fact is, as long as we live in a free society, people are allowed to express their opinions.  I’m doing it right now.  Every time you look at Twitter or Facebook, someone is stating an opinion.  The great thing about social media is that everyone has a voice. The worst thing about social media is that everyone has a voice.  As a society, we can’t pick and choose when it is okay to state an opinion (ignorant or not) and when it is not.
I wish everyone thought like Kenneth Faried does

I can’t help but wonder if the backlash would have been so severe if his comments weren’t racist, but homophobic instead.  Leagues are trying to cut down on the negative words thrown around the fields or courts our sports are played on, but they’ve never done anything as extreme as what we witnessed today.  They’ve previously fined players who used an offensive word, but nothing near the level we saw today.  Hate speech is hate speech, regardless of it being racially or sexually motivated.

One question that keeps coming up in my mind is why did it take so long for the NBA to address the issues and clear racist background of Donald Sterling?  Rumblings and federal legal cases have been around for years with this guy and not once has the league stepped in to do anything about it.  Take some time to review this timeline from Bleacher Report and you’ll see that this isn’t a new issue.  It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back, but if you continue to allow an owner to act like this, things will get worse and worse.  It’s no different than allowing a child to act a certain way and then, out of the blue, deciding that they can’t do what they’ve always done.  The rumors all have legitimate facts behind them.  Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  It should have been addressed when it was a small trash fire and not a raging inferno.

Carmelo Anthony confronts Kevin Garnett after
Garnett makes comments about his wife
I’d like to know if the NBA will follow suit with the NFL and work to ban certain words from being said on their playing field and not just off.  There is a lot of trash talk in sports, most of it is good natured, but there are some who cross the line.  Kevin Garnett is notorious for making crude and offensive remarks to opponents, yet no one has ever stepped in and stopped him.  The problem is they shouldn’t just ban one word.  There needs to be a code of conduct for the court and field that addresses the type of language used.  Racist (no matter what race) and homophobic slurs have no place and should be treated as such.  Fines, flags and technical fouls could all be used to curtail the use of this foolish behavior and language.

In regards to the forced sale; I’m not sure how the league can do that.  How can an outside source force me to sell something I own, whether they like me and my stances or not?  Quite frankly, I would like to see one thing happen with this sale.  No, I don’t want Magic Johnson and his buying group to purchase and take over the team.  I’d much rather see Chris Hansen, the hedge fund manager, purchase the team and relocate them to Seattle.  Let’s completely wash the stench of Sterling off this franchise and return basketball to the Pacific Northwest.  Seattle would completely embrace this.  Yes, Los Angeles loses a franchise but I think they’ll survive as they already have one in place…and one that they love far more than the Clippers.  Let’s admit it, the Clippers don’t exactly have a history rich in tradition.  They’ve been a joke and laughingstock for the majority of their existence.  Let’s wipe the slate clean.

Take the Clippers to Seattle
The one thing that really bothers me about this “punishment” is that all Sterling will do is profit off of it.  In 1981, Sterling acquired the franchise for a price tag of $12.5 million.  If he sells it for their current market value, he’ll be selling them for $575 million.  Someone tell me how making a profit of $562.5 million is a punishment.  So he can’t go to games anymore?  That just doesn’t seem right, but it’s not like the league or anyone can tell him to donate those funds to charity.  He’ll just go his way, with his heart and head filled with ignorance while his bank account gets larger by the day.

There are just so many layers and questions from this, and most of which aren’t related to sports.  It’s all hard to comprehend.  The players, owners and employees of the NBA will applaud Silver and the direction he took.  They should be proud that he stood up for what he and most level headed individuals believe in.  However, does this open Pandora’s Box?  What is going to happen if if an opinion that isn’t the norm is put out there?  It can be a very tricky situation.

Is the step taken today by the NBA the right one?  I think so.  It shows that they are like any other employer/organization in country and have set a standard their owners and employees must live up to.  At the end of the day, though, he’ll profit from it.  The NBA is probably looking at years of litigation with Sterling.  We’re just seeing step one of a very long walk.  For the NBA, it’s the right step.

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