Sterling vs. Silver
The NBA has a new sheriff in town
We’ve all, by now, heard the tapes. The acoustics may be a little off, but the listener can easily discern the geriatric ramblings of an old-timey racist who is attempting to explain “culture” to his young, naïve mistress. His patronizing tone betrays a stalwart stance on these topics, and he seems to blatantly scoff at any of his pupil’s logical interjections. This is certainly an old dog we’re dealing with—one who won’t soon be learning any new tricks.
When Donald Sterling’s damning audio files were released, they were met with a predictable public uproar. Everyone knew that something had to be done about it, but we weren’t sure what. A slap on the wrist? A token scolding? Whatever was going to play out, the timeframe would certainly drag. The thicket of red tape and paperwork would surely take some time to maneuver.
Living in a day and age when justice moves slowly
I say this because, these days, none of this ever happens quickly. An athlete with blades for legs, for example, can shoot his girlfriend through the bathroom door, and well over a year later we are still unsure as to what went down that night, and what the repercussions will be. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was allegedly responsible for last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, is set to go to trial this November.
I’m not saying that accused criminals shouldn’t be offered a fair trial—they should—I’m only saying that justice, these days, tends to move slowly.
Enter Adam Silver, the new commissioner of the NBA. He stepped into his new role on February 1—nary time enough to work a groove into his new chair—and here he is presented with one of the most important decisions that any major commissioner has had to deal with in some time.
When Silver took to the podium on Tuesday, it was the first time I had ever seen him speak. The slight, bespectacled ex-lawyer made quick work of a first impression when he announced that he was imposing a lifetime ban on Sterling, fining him $2.5 million, and that plans are in place to try and force Sterling to sell his team.
It’s difficult to look for positives in such an unfortunate, ugly situation, but this incident certainly gave Adam “Quick” Silver (my attempt at a nickname, let’s see if it sticks) a chance to show that he means business.
Setting an example by making the best of a bad situation
His NFL counterpart, Roger Goodell, has been muddling through discipline issues since his tenure began back in 2006. He was the one who introduced the NFL Player Conduct Policy in 2007, an attempt to quell the growing issue of players behaving badly in their down time. Since then, he’s doled out some light penalties and some hefty ones, he’s been through “Spygate” and “Bountygate”, and he’s handed down rulings that are often, necessarily, controversial—some think he’s too lenient, others too harsh, which results in a mixed public view of his commissionership.
Silver, on the other hand, was given an early opportunity to lay down the law in a slam-dunk case. Everyone was watching, hoping for a harsh penalty, and Silver went above and beyond our expectations. This doesn’t mean, by any stretch, that everyone involved with the NBA will be on his or her best behavior for Silver’s entire tenure, but at least the seed has been planted, and everyone is aware that indiscretions will not be tolerated.
The Donald Sterling incident was not a legal issue, but a moral one, and it was refreshing to see such swift justice in a day and age where, despite our innumerable advances in technology, we are often forced to wait.