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By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor - Archive - Email
Sterling's actions test everyone
Donald Sterling NBA commissioner Adam Silver has two tasks at hand -
what to do about Sterling and how quickly to do it.
Philadelphia, PA ( - In wake of what happened with Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers this past weekend, it would be foolish to make basketball the main story.

If it was Sterling on the audio tape obtained by (it sure sounds like him), he is an abhorrent racist. Sadly, we all knew this already thanks to a life littered by discrimination lawsuits. This incident will spell the end of Sterling in some form.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has two tasks at hand - what to do about Sterling and how quickly to do it.

The league's constitution apparently does not afford him the power to force Sterling to sell the Clippers and be out of basketball forever.

"There are broad powers in place in the NBA's constitution and bylaws that include a range of sanctions," Silver said regarding possible penalties for Sterling. "All of those will be considered depending on the findings of our investigation."

What this all means is that Sterling will probably get fined a substantial amount and be suspended for at least the remainder of the postseason.

Of course, it's not enough, which is why owners, and anyone who can get through that preposterously small brain of Sterling's, need to work back channels and get him to sell.

He bought the team for a reported $12.5 million in 1981 and I believe he could get close to $750 million for them now. The Milwaukee Bucks just went for $550 million, so imagine what the Clippers, now a powerhouse in the NBA and located in Los Angeles, could fetch.

Before this tape became public, Sterling was an embarrassment to basketball. Now, he's the living embodiment of hatred and a misguided, unfair hatred of close to 80 percent of the league, a group Sterling has used to build a massive empire.

He should be gone and gone forever, not just as long as the Clippers remain in the playoffs. There's no rehab for racism, so don't take an easy, 21st century way of atonement. Nothing will work. Look at the man's history and bounce him for life.

Again, that won't happen for various legal reasons, same thing with stripping him of ownership. Sometimes, the right things can't happen.

If Silver's hands are tied to some degree in what he can do to Sterling, whatever he decrees needs to be done as earliest as humanly possible.

The league announced "the NBA will hold a press conference Tuesday to make an announcement about its investigation involving Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Additional details will be announced."

It hurts Silver's reputation if he takes too long to put this bigot down. This is his first real test and letting the investigation drag out would be disastrous, partially because it seems like the type of investigation that shouldn't require much.

Is it Sterling's voice on the tape? Was the tape altered? If it's "yes," followed by a "no," then even Frank Drebin could close the case.

The woman on the tape's motives don't matter. If she "set up" Sterling, she knew how to push his buttons which means she knew he'd go in that direction with the tape. He said it and that's what matters.

One thing Silver needs to be concerned about on this front is the Clippers basketball team and the longer he takes to afford "due process," the more it puts the team at a disadvantage. The competitive integrity of their playoff series against the Golden State Warriors hangs in the balance and deciding the punishment on the day of Game 5 shows no favors for L.A.

Head coach and director of basketball operations Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, who is also the president of the players association, Blake Griffin and the rest of the Clippers deserve to know the fate of their organization. The longer it lingers, the longer the Clips' players have to deal with questions about it. Questions won't go away after Silver's decision, but at least the players will know the commissioner values them to some degree by penalizing their owner.

The Clippers are legitimate contenders for an NBA title and have to deal with this. How they deal with it is completely on them. On Sunday, they ditched their Clippers warmups in favor of long-sleeved T-shirts turned inside out so that the name and logo was invisible. They wore black wristbands and armbands along with black socks.

"I knew about it. I didn't voice my opinion," Rivers said. "I wasn't thrilled about it, to be honest, but if that's what they want to do, that's what they want to do."

The team decided to let Rivers speak on behalf of them. Rivers has been inspiring during this. There's no playbook for this, no wrong way for individuals to feel.

And that goes for Clippers' fans as well. If they choose not to come to the Staples Center on Tuesday night, that's their right. However, they're supporting the players on the floor and most of them have probably waited entire familial generations for the organization to be important. They've earned seeing their team thrive.

But anyone would understand if the crowd didn't come. Handling racism is individual and, sadly, almost all of us in society manifest some type of injustice.

Ever wonder how your sneakers are made, or how the cosmetics women wear are produced? You probably don't. I don't know where or how my clothes are made, but in the back of mind, I'm aware it's probably not in the best of conditions.

The world is sadly about how much injustice someone is comfortable with and it makes us all hypocrites on some level.

Hitting Sterling in the wallet might nudge him toward selling the team. Sponsors are already bolting the Clippers. CarMax and Virgin Airlines have already officially severed ties and State Farm is reportedly about to pull sponsorship.

The players have to play. They've worked too hard to give up on a season that could still lead to a title. Their owner is reprehensible. He stated he wouldn't want the players he employs to sit in the stands for his team. Celebrating a title without him would be a beautiful middle finger.

Sadly, Sterling is a disgrace and the league can't fix him, nor can it shed itself of him. Here's hoping that for once in his life, Sterling can do the right thing, sell the Clippers and let everyone move on with their lives while his finishes out his in silence.