Culture of Hoops

Donald Sterling’s unfortunate comments highlight a larger problem

Baller Mind Frame’s No Layups brings you the hottest NBA stories on the web mixed with personal opinion from our very own Aaron Lanton

I didn’t learn anything new about Donald Sterling. This is old news. The racist opinions of Sterling are well documented since the 80s with potential coaches, Clippers’ players, and a record settlement in a 2009 lawsuit by the Department of Justice that alleges Sterling discriminated against potential minority tenants. Many journalists have reported these particular atrocities, such as Bomani Jones.

The stories have gone away several times because Sterling has friends in high places, but this time social media has gotten ahold of the story which means the narrative is being shaped by the masses. Sterling is being racked over the coals, as he should be.

Let’s add some important context to this: The owners of each franchise make up a board of governors in their respective sports which each act of the bosses of the commissioners for each sport. If a majority the board backs the decision of the commissioner, it usually sticks. When owners are mired in controversy, any suspension a commissioner wishes to levy takes some assistance from the board.

For example, it appears that Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, will not be forced to do more than not attend games after his a recent arrest for DUI while being caught with $29,029 in cash and many bottles of prescription drugs. The comments from NFL owners have been sympathetic and supportive. NBA owners have known about Sterling racist idiosyncrasies for decades. This is Adam Silver’s first true test as the NBA commissioner. It might be possible to indefinitely suspend Donald Sterling, but it’s highly unlikely he can be forced to sell the team.

Public pressure might force everyone’s hand in this case, but there’s no precedent for this sort of situation so any speculation about Sterling’s future as an owner is pure conjecture.

Michael Jordan is the only minority who is a majority owner in the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB. It doesn’t mean that every owner is a racist but it does suggest that something is unequal when there is only one majority owner out of 122 possible franchises in the year 2014. There’s no way to know what the consequences for this leaked tape will be, but at least it will open some eyes of the willfully ignorant who believe we live in a post racial society.

Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

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