Don Sterling shouldn’t have been banned

imageI’m really not happy about the ruling to ban Donald Sterling for life from the Clippers Organization and the NBA. Before I explain why, let me preface it with this: I think what Sterling said and feels about black people is offensive, reprehensible, and shouldn’t be accepted. I think for him to express to his mistress that he’s embarrassed that she would bring “black people” to his games is crazy! However, having said all that, I feel he shouldn’t have been banned or even fined. Here’s why: Sterling made his remarks in the privacy of his home. As despicable as they are, those were his feelings and he expressed them in his home. I don’t feel like it’s right to impose sanctions on someone just because they are racist.

If they act discriminatory against someone, if they implement racist policies, if they treat people unfairly, well that’s another ballgame. Just judging on the merits of this situation, nothing was reported to indicate that being the case. He may have had a history as a slumlord racist. But that’s not what he was banned for. He may have been a defendant in a civil suit against Elgin Baylor, who charged that he was engaging in discriminatory practices. However, that’s not what this was about.

According to the press conference given by the Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, this ban was solely on what he said in his home. I think the NBA made a decision on a slippery slope. I understand Sterling is a public figure and has to represent the NBA in a certain light. I understand that as a public figure he has a responsibility to the public. I understand that it is even more outrageous that he feels the way he does and still employs many black people, has a team of mostly black players, and has a Coach and General Manager in Doc Rivers who is black. The irony of it all is quite baffling! Or maybe not.

Maybe he’s just a “good” businessman and can separate his personal feelings from the business decisions he makes as an NBA owner. But to attempt to deprive someone of their right to keep a business they own because of something they believe is, to me, even more offensive. If he used his platform as an NBA owner to express his racial views to some private organization or some other cause that would be a different story. If he publicly supported views or causes that were discriminatory, that would be a different story. But again, just taking this incident alone, I didn’t see anything reported as such.

Here’s what should have happened: The NBA should have done nothing and allowed Sterling’s views to be punished organically. That would have sent a stronger message and would have elevated the level of respect of everyone who was offended. Fans should have stopped coming to the games. Players should have decided they weren’t going to play for the organization. Coaches should have stepped away. And you know what would have happened? Sterling would have been forced to sell.

One of the greatest boycotts in American history was the Montgomery Bus Line Boycott, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You know why it was so powerful? Ultimately it wasn’t a legislative body or board of directors that changed the racist policy of having blacks sit at the back of the bus. It was the people themselves that decided they wouldn’t ride the bus anymore. They took the opportunity to make a unified statement. In this case however, Commissioner Silver made the final decision. Instead of mounting up pressure on the Commissioner to do something about Sterling, every individual involved should have said, “I’m going to do something about it.” Some people did, and I applaud them. Nevertheless, I hate that we live in a world where someone says something offensive and our first reaction is to look for someone to punish them for us.

Is it because deep inside we feel no matter how offended we are, we are still going to support institutions that we feel don’t think the best about us? Is it because deep inside we still feel powerless? Today, we celebrate Adam Silver for making a decision we should have made. We celebrate him for feeling our pain. But what if he didn’t? What if he didn’t agree with those who called for Sterling’s head to roll? What would have happened? Are we afraid of that answer and so we breathe a sigh of relief when someone in power “gets it right”? What happens in the future when someone gets it wrong? In some weird kind of way, I wish I had the opportunity to see that.


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  1. Biblically, that bible says what you sow you shall also reap, am I right? Also it said the tongue can speak life or death to any situation, am I right? We can think things base on our human understanding, but in this society we live in, how often has the mindset of this society constantly changing? How often do change what we feel it right or wrong in this society? What I feel mean nothing compare what God thinks and how HE judge us. If what I feel is not inline with God’s Word then it not worth it. In this today society, they feel it not right to bold about your faith in Christ, but any other faith seem to be okay….The Law of the Land determine his fate. Jesus knew how man made their own law, yet when He committed no crime, He still follow the law of the land. Yes it a slippery slope in society, how do you think God would have judge this situation??????

  2. Plus remember, the guys from ESPN said the NBA is not his own business, he part of it but at the same time he can get kicked out of it

  3. Grace & Peace Pastor,

    You know that I have the utmost respect for you as a man of God, husband, father and all else, but I must respectfully disagree with your take on the situation. In answer to the last question of your blog I submit that we have seen what would and does happen. We have seen it over and over again. From the Rodney King verdict, the Abner Louima case, to Trayon Martin. Granted that this situation pales in comparison, but what happens is, the injustices quickly fade into the distant darkness of our collective memories as our day to day lives take the forefront.

    I applaud Commissioner Silver for his swift and heavy handed action. I still realize however, that although he may not share the same opinion as Don Sterling, his response was not motivated by an overwhelming regard for African-Americans or people of color but as the best way to protect the business interests of the people that cuts his check. He did all that was in his power to right a ship that had sprung a leak and had passengers (sponsors) jumping ship at a record pace.

    I think many people believe that the new methodology regarding protest pales in comparison to that of decades past, I however believe that we are evolving. Embracing a methodology presented to us by the world of social media and technology that works quicker and more efficiently than that of the past.

    I understand that we cannot legislate morality, but fair treatment and equal opportunity can be somewhat regulated at the very least. Although made in the privacy of your own home, the mocks such as those expressed by Mr. Sterling once made public, by whatever means, brings into question every hiring decision, promotion decision and overall culture of the entire organization.

    That being said, I believe Commissioner Silver’s decision was timely, just, and completely warranted.

    1. It’s funny that you brought up those cases such as Louima, King, Trayvon and the like. That was the reason for my post. For too long we relied on a “process” or verdict, and then wait with baited breath that it would be ruled in our favor. Sadly, as you mentioned, we usually are left disappointed. I didn’t want to allow the Commissioner to be at the front and center of what happens but instead I felt for once in a long time those who were disparaged were in the driver seat and instead of driving the issue we left it up to someone else. It would have been more valiant if the league was left in a position of having to address this issue, not because of corporate sponsors, but because of the very people that were hurt

  4. I concur and have spent all day explaining these same points to everyone who came to me praising the Commissioner’s decision. He missed the mark. He got it wrong.
    In this land of the free, indeed in most every land on earth, one can freely express their opinion in the privacy of their own home without fear of such severe, or really any repercussions. The players on the other hand were as wrong as the Commissioner. Mr. Sterling’s opinion was hardly a secret. His “employees” were aware of how he felt and still did not seek other employment. They had no problem cashing their paychecks. They should have had no problem putting on their uniforms and getting to work.
    This whole thing is ugly. But it is and should have remained a private affair. Whether we like it or not, the wrong one got sanctioned.

    1. Thanks Dwight for replying. This definitely was a topic of debate for many people. Thanks for weighing in man. Blessings to you.


  5. I have to agree with you. Sterling is a despicable human being, by all accounts, and this may well have been just what he deserves. But Silver’s quick response just showed me that his greatest fear was a player boycott and that LeBron James is running the league. The remaining owners who, with the exception of Mark Cuban, have fallen in lockstep with the commissioner, should consider selling their teams, too. Would you want to own a team for 33 years and then be forced to sell because of statements made in a private conversation in your own home? Slippery slope, indeed.

    1. Hey Gary, true indeed! But I guess at the end of day he was judged for who he is as a person. I just felt it should’ve been done a little differently so as to not set a bad precedent. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.


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