The NBA overreacts and drops the hammer on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

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:


5 responses to “The NBA overreacts and drops the hammer on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

  1. You might consider it overreaction if it was a first offense, but Sterling’s already had to settle multimillion dollar lawsuits over housing discrimination based on race. I can’t imagine it as a publicity stunt, since all it creates is bad PR, having sponsors dump you etc. UCLA is refusing an unrelated $3million dollar donation, and Magic Johnson may end up buying the team! Perhaps it was an act of revenge by his former “girlfriend”. (Why can’t people just say MISTRESS? He was married after all.)

    Though I didn’t understand it before this incident, the NBA owners association is apparently kind of like a country club. If enough owners blackball you, they can kick you out, and you can be prevented from owning a team. Sterling’s attitudes tarnish the image the NBA wishes to present to the public, and they have the power to make him a pariah.

    • That’s great, make him a pariah. He deserves it! But a lifetime ban is absolutely the harshest sentence a commissioner can hand out. It seems excessive to me when compared to other players from other sports who have gotten lifetime bans like Pete Rose and Joe Jackson and what they did. Or players who have gotten into serious trouble compromising the integrity of their sport and HAVEN’T gotten lifetime bans. Like A-Rod and Mark McGwire.

      • I agree with you that the actions of others in sports SHOULD have earned them lifetime bans. It reflects badly on the image of the sport. There’s probably some pressure on Silver to establish his authority also, since he’s new.

      • I should admit that I work in health care. If I even got a misdemeanor conviction for anything except traffic violations, I would be banned for life, and never be able to renew my licenses without arbitration.

      • OK, but those are rules of your industry and you most likely knew about them when you got into health care. But what rules did Sterling break specifically? For having racist thoughts and giving voice to them privately? He didn’t do this during a real interview, he was having an argument with his mistress/girlfriend. This ban is damage control to avoid hemorrhaging its black fan base.

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