On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver ordered that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling be banned from the team and the NBA for life. The announcement came after Sterling's racist remarks were made public in a secretly taped recording.
The audio captured Sterling lecturing a woman, V. Stiviano, about how wrong it is to interact with African Americans in public.
Seattle Times sports columnist Jerry Brewer said he wasn’t surprised when he heard Sterling's comments.
“Anyone who has covered the NBA knows that Donald Sterling, at best, is an unsavory character and at worst – a bigot,” Brewer told KUOW’s Bill Radke. “It wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone. The biggest surprise was that the NBA, long ago, hasn’t punished him along the lines for some of his high-profile cases that involved racist and even sexist incidents and comments.
“[Former NBA commissioner] David Stern, for three decades, basically pushed it under the rug. You could complain about why the media didn’t make a bigger fuss about it and that’s a fair point as well. A lot of people were complicit in letting this guy exist.”
Brewer said the problems finally caught up with the NBA when TMZ released the recordings on Saturday, April 26.
“It’s an embarrassing incident, but you can't just blame Donald Sterling. You have to blame the whole establishment for letting it get to this point,” he said.
Brewer said Silver, the newly minted NBA commissioner, had to come out strongly on this incident.
“You’re talking about NBA that is 78 percent black. If [Silver] came across soft on Donald Sterling, I think the NBA playoffs would have been interrupted,” Brewer said. “The Clippers and the [Golden State Warriors] wouldn’t have played last night, and other teams would have joined in there.”
Silver also issued Sterling a $2.5 million fine and stated that Sterling’s “views have no place in the NBA.”
The next question is whether NBA can legally force Sterling to sell the team. Sterling, who was an attorney before acquiring the Clippers in 1981, is expected to push back.
As for the Clippers relocating to Seattle, Brewer said the chances are slim.
“The Los Angeles market, like the New York market, can clearly hold multiple NBA teams and support them,” he said. “I don’t see the NBA punishing the city of Los Angeles or the region of Southern California for the sins of Donald Sterling.”
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