Ya’ll know I have been itching to blog about this, right? I do not know which part of me was more anxious, my PR white hat or my sports management persona.
LIFETIME BAN. Those words echoed through my ears yesterday as I watched NBA Commissioner Adam Silver grab a hold of his early defining moment. Having only been on the job less than three months, Silver’s leadership was thrust into the international spotlight when taped conversations surfaced between Los Angeles Clippers owner and his archivist/assistant/ girlfriend/other woman/ Vanessa Stiviano, where Sterling expressed his thoughts about the black race. The conversation, in true WWE fashion, was no holds barred. If you had any questions about how Sterling felt about people with brown skin tones, he provided you with the answers you had been seeking.
The internet lit up. So did ESPN. CNN. So did barbershops. Churches. Checkout lines. How could an obvious racist own a team that has a roster loaded with black players, in a league loaded with black players? What will the players do? Should they play or not? Wait, this is not the first time Sterling has been deemed racist, is it? Lets see, he was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for housing discrimination. Lets see, he was sued by NBA Hall of Famer, Elgin Baylor, for employee discrimination. No need to be surprised. The pattern has been there.
Silver issued what he thought was a just punishment. He dropped the hammer, nails, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers and whatever else he could find in the tool box In his NBA, racism will not be tolerated, as it has been in the past. Yeah, I am looking at you David Stern. It did not stop there. Silver ordered Sterling to pay a fine of $2.5 million dollars and urged the other owners in the NBA to exercise their constitutional rights and vote Sterling out as owner of the Clippers.
The internet lit up. #Bannedforlife trended number one for hours. My social media feeds were full of opinions and discussions and the Clippers made their own statement by simply changing their website to a black screen with the phrase “We Are One” boldly situated in the middle of the screen above their logo. As the players and the league begins its healing process, the push to have Sterling removed continues. As the fans continue to attend games and purchase merchandise, Sterling’s pockets continue to get fatter. And this is a hot topic. I have encountered many whom seem to think that in the end Sterling wins because he is a billionaire and he is set to add to his fortune if he is forced to sale.
Now I am no millionaire. I am not even close but one thing I am certain of is that the one thing that most people who have his type of money crave more than anything is the power that comes along with it. Just look at the list of names of people who are rumored to interested in purchasing the Clippers: Oprah, Floyd Mayweather, Matt Damon, Dave Geffen, Larry Ellison, Rick Ross, Diddy, Oscar De La Hoya, the list goes on. None of these people are struggling. None of these people are in dire need of money. None of these people go out and pay their bills at the office like I do. The money they have has given them a power that most of us will never attain. Of course, $2.5 million dollars will be no big deal to Sterling but I am willing to bet my pennies that being him being stripped of his power will definitely have an effect on that ego of his.
This was defining moment for the NBA. The players will be criticized for years to come for playing, essentially for Sterling, one day after finding out how he truly feels about them. Although, I am willing to once again bet my pennies and say those players had some type of inkling that Sterling was not a fan of brown skinned people. Money talks.
I applaud Adam Silver for his swift and thorough action regarding this situation. He did not have to choose this route but he did and for that he should be commended. We will never erase racism but we do not have to tolerate it. Job well done, Commissioner.
Until next time…TOODELLS. WE ARE ONE.