THE SANTA CLARA
May 8, 2014
Sterling made several racist comments on the infamous tape that surfaced nearly two weeks ago as he and his girlfriend stumbled through an argument over her socializing with “minorities.” Companies sponsoring the Clippers, like Red Bull and Virgin America, rushed to cut ties with the organization.
At their game against the Golden State Warriors the next day, Clippers players wore their warm-up jerseys inside out so the team’s name could not be seen. Current and former players, including Magic Johnson, made statements on Twitter regarding the situation.
Last Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Sterling would be banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million.
I was not the least bit surprised. Although I hadn’t expected the consequence of a lifetime ban, it made sense, and I approved of Silver’s decision. More surprising was that while most people viewed the situation like I did, there were also many who opposed the commissioner’s decision, taking Sterling’s side.
At first, I was perplexed by this opinion. But as I heard from more people, many of whom I respect, the reason for the controversy became more clear.
What seems to bug many people is how the recording was obtained.Their opinion is that Sterling’s girlfriend, who secretly recorded the conversation, was morally wrong (though there are some reports stating Sterling knew he was being recorded). People should be able to say whatever they want in their own private spaces, right? How is it fair that Sterling has to face such extreme sanctions because of a few racist remarks he made?
However, those who hold this viewpoint fail to recognize one extremely important aspect about the NBA: It is a business.
The decision to ban Sterling from the league was not made to seek justice. It was made to save the NBA. If the commissioner had resorted to a punishment any less severe, the repercussions for the association would’ve been much more widespread than decreased support for the Clippers.
After Silver’s ruling, the Warriors claimed that they would have walked off the court after tip-off if they hadn’t been satisfied with the sanction. It’s very likely that other teams would have done the same, throwing the whole NBA playoff season out of whack, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars.
It is hard to estimate the scale of repercussions if Silver had not dealt with the situation in the way that he did, but I’m sure of one thing: The NBA would have lost a lot of money. Instead, they are profiting from the situation and the rise of the league’s publicity.
Though the aftermath of the situation may not seem fair to some, it makes sense. The sanction levied against Sterling did not come from the judicial system. It came from the NBA, a corporation seeking to make money, not settle civil rights disputes.
The NBA’s decision to ban Sterling was a smart one and cannot be logically countered with.
Nate Bradford is a freshman communication major.