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article imageOp-Ed: My not-so-popular opinion about Donald Sterling's ban

By Paul Bright     Apr 29, 2014 in Sports
Los Angeles - The Los Angeles Clipper's owner Donald Sterling was recently banned for life by the NBA for his recorded racist comments. I'm not sure this was a fair decision by the NBA.
Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner, was recently banned for life by the National Basketball Association based on allegations of making racist statements. Although Mr. Sterling admitted that was his voice on the recordings, I don't know that the NBA has a true leg to stand on for banning him.
Don't get me wrong. Everything Mr. Sterling said on the recordings is disturbing. A man who basically doesn't mind blacks so long as they are in their place, i.e., under his employment or for his financial benefit, is a troublesome person. He even has a sordid past of racist or controversial actions based on discrimination or stereotype. But I find this a little hypocritical and just as disturbing about how this ban came to be.
Reason 1: The NBA's image issue is hypocritical. Why is it that the racist comments were considered damaging to the NBA's image, but the fact that he had a girlfriend despite being married was not of concern? Not only is this Viviano considered his girlfriend; she's been seen in public with him at games. So being racist is an image problem, being anti-gay is an image problem, but being a known philanderer is NOT an image problem? Or how about sworn testimony (it's graphic in detail at this link here) by Mr. Sterling himself illustrating his disregard for women?
Reason 2: The Recordings Were Illegal. California law states that you cannot use recorded conversations as evidence unless both people consent to the recording. It doesn't appear that V. Stiviano got his permission to record the conversation. There are very few exceptions to this law. Therefore, it is possible that Mr. Sterling could file a lawsuit against the NBA if they banned him for illegal reasons.
Reason 3: There is little history of Mr. Sterling's beliefs affecting his NBA operations. The only NBA-related racist accusations against Mr. Sterling was a lawsuit from Elgin Baylor, a former L.A. Clippers general manager. He accused Mr. Sterling of racism during negotiations with a former player, and also freezing his salary based on race and age in comparison to other general managers. The racist accusation was dropped, and then the court judged in favor of Mr. Sterling.
Does this mean what Mr. Baylor accused Mr. Sterling of didn't take place? I doubt it. But my point is the historical record of racist accusations within the NBA's context. There is little of that, which leads me to my last reason of concern.
Reason 4: The NBA is now on a slippery slope. If illegal recordings and accusations without historical basis within the league are enough to get you banned as an owner, who is next? What else will be within their power? Who else will take an opportunity to goad a conversation that could get someone kicked out of the NBA?
These are tough questions to answer, and even tougher reasons to swallow. Again, I want to reiterate that I don't agree with Mr. Sterling's comments or his beliefs. It would be ironic as a writer of Black and Filipino descent to agree with him; almost as ironic as Mr. Sterling having a Black and Latino girlfriend, but I digress. If I were involved with an organization whose owner was racist, I wouldn't want to work for that owner, regardless of my color.
But if the NBA wants to show that they truly care, they needed to do this sooner when other questionable actions by Mr. Sterling took place, and they need to enforce the moral code all around. Otherwise, the NBA shows that what they truly care about is money.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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