By Ernie Palladino
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There goes another unrepentant racist onto the scrap heap.
Thanks to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the league and its fans will be hearing no more from L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. In sterling-silver fashion, the commish ostensibly threw Sterling out of the league Tuesday because of his recorded stance on his alleged former girlfriend showing herself in the company of black men around Sterling’s arena.
Just when you thought all this nonsense between the races was over with, the 80-year-old Sterling and his former gal pal — obviously one with an ax that she not only ground, but now planted squarely in the back of the old geezer’s head — arrived to tell us that it’s anything but resolved.
Here pops up this nine-minute recording. According the woman, V. Stiviano, she’s got about another 100 hours worth of Sterling’s tarnished-gold words ready to go.
Given all that, it’s no wonder Silver handed down a lifetime ban and the maximum $2.5 million fine. If anyone who values fresh, clean air, as opposed to the polluted wind that emanates from Sterling’s mouth, the ban and the departure of a dozen sponsors — and a vote from the Board of Governors — will force him to sell the Clippers to someone who cares more about the human than the pigmentation that covers him.
At some point, one would think all the economic losses will cause Sterling to sell. Silver, to his credit, vowed to urge the other NBA owners to pressure him into selling, but pulling if off could be difficult. And Sterling said right away that he had no intention of unloading his playoff squad.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban warned the league of landing on a slippery slope if it indeed votes to jettison the Clippers’ head man. His point was that one cannot be forced to give up his business for his thoughts.
“In this country, people are allowed to be morons,” said Cuban, who later came out in support of Silver’s decision. “They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts.”
And yet, these were not just thoughts. These were purposeful comments, uttered in calm reflection about a league that makes much of its profit through the skills of black players and the fans of black players. Given that the NBA is a club of sorts, the other members should feel that Sterling is bad for business.
Let them at least try to throw him out.
Still, Silver did the right thing yesterday. A lifetime ban is nothing to sneeze at, though bans can be rescinded. And even for a ba-zillionaire like Sterling, $2.5 million is nothing to shrug off, especially when he could have avoided the hit by just keeping his mouth shut.
Instead, he flapped his yap to his lady friend, who just happened to be recording their supposedly private conversation. Hey, even this aging fool has to know that in this day and age only a keystroke separates private from public.
The NBA can’t legislate thought. It can do something about the thinkers who just don’t fit in with its goals or image.
Silver did that Tuesday, perfectly.
Now, we’ll have to see just how far he and the other owners can take the issue. Wherever that road leads, Sterling will deserve every inch of it.
Then, maybe, any other unrepentant racist in the sports world will get the message.
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