I have never been more proud to be a fan.
I write this with a smile on my face, because last week you made a statement. That statement was powerful and it was something along the lines of, “We’re not going to deal with this shit.”
For those of you who live under a rock, Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was heard on an audio recording making some very racist statements. Sterling admitted to making the statements, didn’t offer any regret or remorse, and then was fined $2.5 million by the NBA and given a lifetime ban from all NBA events.
Justice was served.
People ask me all the time why I love sports so much. When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came out and put the hammer down on Sterling, I couldn’t understand why anyone would even ask me that. I got chills. I got that feeling reserved for moments that are indescribable, and I don’t even care about the image of the NBA or Silver. What happened was bigger than that. Racism and other kinds of bigotry will continue to be a problem in our society, maybe forever, but it’s statements like this that show progress.
Sports are an escape from reality, but they failed to offer any escape for a while there when what Silver would do was up in the air. But instead of the legitimacy of your league being questioned, the only remaining questions have to do with when and how Sterling will be completely out of the public sphere of the NBA.
When I first heard of Sterling’s comments, I questioned what I would do in Adam Silver’s place. That’s a tough call. He’d been commissioner for 88 days when he had his press conference. That’s not long, especially after the previous commissioner, David Stern, held the office for 30 years. What made it even more difficult was whether or not you could really come down hard on someone for having an opinion. And no matter how terrible of a guy Sterling is, what he did have was an opinion, and he happened to be on the wrong end of a recording. People have opinions that they wouldn’t want the world to hear, which is exactly what happened to Sterling, right?
I’ll admit, I thought this at first. I thought that the First Amendment should protect someone like this, but it didn’t take me long to realize how completely wrong I was. Who cares about his right to speak? First of all, he’s a part of the business, and if he makes a statement that affects the business, then he should be punished.
Secondly, and more importantly, put business aside. This guy is a racist. This guy said horrible things that should not be accepted in any part of our society anymore. Period. As sports fans, we should be able to escape without having to feel unaccepted in any way.
You, the NBA and Commissioner Silver, made me so proud. We won’t let any of that garbage pollute our league. There’s no room for it. That is why I love sports so much: the ability to make such a powerful statement on a global stage.
Vanguard Sports Desk