Silver brings the hammer

So Commissioner Silver just finished his press conference, and he brought the boom to Donald Sterling. Sterling is banned from the Clippers, and the NBA, for life. He was additionally banned $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA’s bylaws. The NBA’s owner’s will vote to determine if Sterling will be forced to sell the Clippers, requiring a 3/4 vote.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Silver was a top lieutenant under David Stern for a many years, so he was in part responsible for the league’s past failures to act on Sterling. I am glad, however, that he redeemed those past failures by finally removing the worst owner in the sport’s history for good. You can make a case that Sterling should have been removed years ago for his ineptitude in owning the team, or later for his discriminatory housing practices, but better late than never, I suppose.

Silver is receiving praise from current and former players, as well as the media, for his swift and decisive actions taken today. Part of me has to wonder whether the response would have been the same should the owner have been different. Donald Sterling has long been a laughingstock of an owner, with seemingly few allies to begin with. Until his lawyers mount a defense, he’s helpless as the league’s owners were all able to essentially turn their back on the family’s black sheep. Not that I feel bad for Sterling, I think he’s subhuman, but forgive me if I’m more restrained in my praise of Silver. With all of the public pressure mounting these past few days, this was a great opportunity for the new commissioner to ingratiate himself with the players and general public. I give him credit for taking this punishment a step further than I thought he might, but I’ll refrain from calling him a hero for a while. Let’s also remember how much everyone praised NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for the heavy hand he used to punish players when he first came into his position, but now, only a few years later, he’s looked at almost as a tyrant. Having said all that, I’m anxious to hear a response from Sterling’s representatives, as I do not expect him to go away easily. For now, though, all basketball fans can rejoice at the exit of one of the sport’s worst figures.

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