Donald Sterling is banned from the NBA for life, and like many people, I am totally shocked and pretty stoked. But unlike a lot of people, I also feel a little funny about how this whole thing is going down.
I tuned in to Adam Silver’s press conference live while I was at work, bizarrely watching on Al Jazeera, as it was the only available channel broadcasting it on my Time Warner Cable stream. I never expected Silver to come down with a lifetime ban, but find me someone who did. It was insane. Completely insane. This guy owns 1/30 of the league. This guy is technically Adam Silver’s boss. This guy supports a whole black team and gives them food, and clothes, and car —
No, but seriously, this guy owns the team! He finances the fucking team! You don’t usually see an owner of anything punished this severely for anything that isn’t a crime (Marge Schott is the closest example and it wasn’t even close).
And it is very important to consider that Sterling didn’t actually do anything illegal (although in 2014 making someone delete their best Instagram is nearly there).
We all hate racism (right?), and we all love condemning it publicly (right.), but this situation is a bit more nuanced than many are giving it credit for, and deserves a two (or three!) sided look.
Banning Donald Sterling for life defines logic because…
Look at the fucking guy. Listen to the fucking guy. He is a reprehensible human being, to an almost cartoonish degree. He got caught with his wrinkly racist foot in his wrinkly racist mouth, and every decent human being should be immensely satisfied to see him get hammered for it.
Plus, this sets an extremely strong precedent that bigoted behavior will not be tolerated, even by the megarich.
And we can all breathe a sigh of relief for every single person of color that relies on Donald Sterling’s paycheck, from Chris Paul to the Staples Center concession staff. They got the justice they deserved, and ridiculous suggestions that they should boycott their jobs can be put to bed.
Banning Donald Sterling for life defies logic because…
Wait a second! Is this justice? To try to literally take away someone’s property by forcing Sterling to sell his team for doing nothing other than express his opinion? We all hate what he did, but all he did was speak! And he didn’t threaten any consequences to black people who might come to his games, or threaten his girlfriend with anything other than the possibility he might leave her. He didn’t commit any kind of crime at all.
All he did was — reprehensibly — exercise his right to free speech. A private organization such as the NBA is well within their right to ban him from interacting with the league. But to announce that you’re going to try to force the sale of his team?
The reaction to this whole situation indicates something truly frightening about us all because…
ARE WE JUST NOW COLLECTIVELY BECOMING AWARE OF THE LONG AND STORIED RACIST HISTORY OF NBA TEAM OWNER AND PUBLIC FIGURE DONALD STERLING? THIS MAN IS A SLUMLORD WHO HAS EXERCISED HIS RACIST BELIEFS FOR A LONG FUCKING TIME TO ACTUALLY COMMIT REAL, TANGIBLE CRIMES THAT HAVE NEGATIVELY IMPACTED MINORITY TENANTS. HE HAS DONE THIS FOR MANY, MANY YEARS. HE HAS LITERALLY FUCKED UP THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE BECAUSE HE IS RACIST. AND IT TAKES A VIRAL RECORDING WHERE HE EXTENDS HIS VITRIOL TO BELOVED BLACK MILLIONAIRES FOR US TO TRULY RALLY OUR COLLECTIVE OUTRAGE? OPEN YOUR FUCKING EYES PEOPLE. FUCK THIS IS SUCH A DEPRESSING WORLD WE LIVE IN AND I’M PRETTY MUCH DISAPPOINTED WITH YOU ALL.
That being said, I am overall pretty stoked about Adam Silver’s decision.