The NBA has issued a lifetime ban for Clippers owner Donald Sterling for a conversation he had about minorities with his girlfriend…..while being recorded without his knowledge.
Don’t get me wrong, assuming this isn’t some kind of staged publicity stunt by Sterling and his girlfriend, Sterling is obviously a racist and a hypocrite.
But a lifetime ban over a private conversation? Seriously?
Lifetime bans are handed out for compromising the integrity of the game you are a part of, like what happened to Pete Rose and Joe Jackson in Major League Baseball, not for making racist comments privately to your girlfriend while you’re being secretly recorded. Again, I’m not defending Sterling’s comments at all, I’m saying that the NBA has overreacted. Now this is not completely surprising given that the vast majority of the NBA is constituted of black players and that some of Sterling’s comments were directed specifically at Magic Johnson, a Hall Of Fame former player, but I’m not entirely certain that a ban like this would stand up in a court of law if it could be challenged that way. Sterling’s comments were recorded without his knowledge while in a private conversation with his girlfriend. I’m not a lawyer, but I think that’s called entrapment? Just saying.
The NBA should have condemned Sterling’s comments as they are racist and hypocritical, but this really comes off to me as a move to placate its black players, former and current, and its black fan base, which is considerable. Magic Johnson absolutely had the right idea when he tweeted that he would no longer be attending Clipper games as long as Sterling is the owner. That’s what you do. You boycott, not start throwing out lifetime bans for ignorant, secretly recorded conversations made in private that may or may not be staged. For all the NBA knows, this is a giant publicity stunt by Sterling. If it is, they fell for it hook, line, and sinker. If they aren’t in on it themselves, that is.
For a full recording of Sterling’s comments, go here: