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Commentary: Mandatory Punishments in Donald Sterling Scandal

Sammie Chen_Tsai-Berton
Staff Writer

African-Americans dealt with racism from the 1600s to the 1900s and while it is the 21st century, there are still a few who continue to be prejudiced against minorities. Donald Sterling, former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was caught in a controversy when he made a phone call to his mistress, V. Stiviano.

According to the New York Daily News, the phone call between Sterling and Stiviano showed how Sterling viewed African-Americans. “You don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people. “Don’t put [Los Angeles Lakers Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see. And don’t bring him to my games,” Sterling said.

After the scandal, the NBA heavily urged him to sell the Clippers organization. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could not fine or fire Sterling, because of the rules and regulations regarding conduct of the league’s owners. Even if all the owners of the NBA voted to remove Donald Sterling as team owner, it technically cannot happen. According to International Business Times, the termination would have the best chance of surviving antitrust laws if it can be shown the relationship with Sterling would have put the entire league at risk of liability based upon purportedly continued actions and statements of racial bias.

Was it a good move for the NBA to blacklist him and force him sell the Clippers? Yes, there are several reasons why he should have been punished. Sterling’s racism had given him a bad reputation, but affected the NBA. For an example, making racist remarks on Johnson is disrespectful and should not be tolerated at all. Tarnishing the reputation of the league, Sterling’s actions also discouraged fans and players of all ethnicties from enjoying the sport.

Further, the NBA was justified in insisting he sell the franchise because as an owner, he should take responsibility of his wrongdoings. Either way, Sterling would have been smart to sell the franchise as an owner before the team itself refuses to play for him.

After California’s Second District Court of Appeal denied Sterling’s petition to stop the two billion dollar sale on Aug. 13, he had ten business days to ask the state’s Supreme Court to go over the case. According to court results, the deadline expired without any petition. Therefore, Sterling was out of legal options when trying to avoid selling the Clippers. It was a good move on the Supreme Court’s end because not only were fans of the team angry toward Sterling, the team itself wore their pre-game warm-ups backwards to show that they didn’t want to represent a team owned by a racist individual.

Steve Ballmer, the new owner of the Clippers franchise sealed the deal ten days ago when he purchased the team for two billion dollars.

It was the right thing for Sterling to sell the franchise because the Clippers would have lost valuable fans, but also because the team players themselves would eventually have refused to play for a team under a racist owner.


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