NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced yesterday that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will be fined $2.5 million and banned from the league for life in response to his racist comments that were caught on tape and leaked to TMZ by his slimeball former girlfriend. Silver also said the NBA's Board of Governors would likely vote to force Sterling to sell the team, although it is not clear that the league bylaws give them the power to do this.
I think the NBA made the right call. I doubt that it could have handled this situation any better. They gave Mr. Sterling the maximum penalty allowed by the NBA's constitution, and he deserved it. I hope that Sterling, now that he has been shown that he is no longer welcome at the table of NBA owners, will decide to do the right thing and sell the Clippers as soon as possible.
The NBA has set a great precedent in punishing an owner for unacceptable behavior. Every owner of a major sports franchise should now be put on notice that certain types of behaviors will not be tolerated. Just because someone is rich enough to own a major sports team does not give him or her the right to do or say anything they want. Good for the NBA!
However, the sports world should not be satisfied to stop at racism when it comes to what will not be tolerated in their owners. They should add all of the following to the list of behaviors that make one unworthy of being a sports owner: violence of any kind, ant-semitism, sexism, ageism, offensive comments about someone's religion and/or diety, and disparaging remarks about a person's handicapped status or physical deformity. The other sports leagues should now join forces with the NBA to rid the sports world of unsuitable owners.