Adam Silver has a parade of laudable business partners that he inherited from his morally ambiguous predecessor, David Stern.
The new NBA commissioner has a business partner in Washington who doesn’t know the difference between a tax code and “class warfare,” who bribes bloggers, slugs fans, bulldozes the neighboring Chinatown population into Virginia so he can help put up more Hooters, and asserts that we should all be grateful for the privilege of subsidizing his team.
He has a business partner in Orlando who is so righteous he has poured millions into anti-gay marriage initiatives, because gays “keep asking for favors” and “special treatment,” and marriage is “not vital to them, in my opinion.”
He has a business partner in Cleveland that made billions in the mortgage business, many of them by passing subprime loans along to the ultimate thieves, Countrywide, which greased the derivative machine that helped destroy the global economy.
He has a business partner in Oklahoma City who made his billions through fracking, which has been linked to everything from toxic drinking water to earthquakes to climate change, and then screwed landowners out of their royalties when business went bad.
He has a business partner in Brooklyn who is an oligarch, that special kind of patriot who uses political connections to grab billions in state-owned assets for micropennies on the dollar, leaving much of the population to starve in the feudal cesspool left behind.
And yes, he has a business partner in Los Angeles who is a slumlord that refused to rent to minorities because they are “not desirable tenants,” and because “black tenants smell and attract vermin,” and “Mexicans sit around and drink all day,” leading to a humongous settlement of a federal housing lawsuit; and who has some scary attitudes toward women, which has led to harassment suits and yet more settlements.
We’re not here to put Donald Sterling’s racism on a scale with other social sins practiced by Adam Silver’s business partners, which stretch from here to Seattle.
We can only remind you that everyone already knew that Sterling was a despicable human being. If you didn’t know it, you simply weren’t paying attention, or – like Stern and Silver and everyone else in the NBA – you chose not to care.
Racism is an indelible part of what he is. If he issues a thousand mea-culpas today, nothing changes that. He has stood courtside with a what-me-worry visage for decades, because he is part of a lunatic fraternity that always embraced him as a bit eccentric, but always One of Ours.
So we find this latest example of Sterling spewing his usual vile nonsense not even remotely interesting, or anything but redundant. This is Donald Sterling we’re talking about. What TMZ captured on tape is not a smoking gun. It is a longstanding business practice.
Yet his remarks have received a ton of attention, because the people who do business with him suddenly cannot overlook the fact that he is a public embarrassment and a risk to their virtuous enterprise.
(Pause here for eye-roll.)
Only two things really should vex these Men of Basketball.
One: They never denounced Sterling a decade ago, when his odious viewpoints were already a part of the public record – yet the players took his money, his partners shared in his largesse, and the fans subsidized his business.
Two: They don’t seem to care that all this evidence of bigotry was obtained via an egregious invasion of Donald the Clown’s privacy, which is a candor test that absolutely none of these Men of Basketball would be able to pass.
So, better late than never, we go to the torches and pitchforks. Donald has everyone fired up just by being the despicable human being that he is, so expect Silver to punish him for, essentially, free speech. He has the authority to do that within the framework of the NBA constitution – because, you know, Sterling’s latest behavior isn’t in the best interests of the league.
Just let the record show that until Saturday morning, it was just fine.
The public response was outrage, and, sure, mostly proportionate. As for the punishment, most of us scratch our heads like LeBron James, the league’s commercial colossus, who says, “There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league.”
Try to keep up, young fella. Clearly, there’s abundant room for all types in your league.
The other primary cash cow, Michael Jordan, was one of the only owners who had the guts to speak up in the first 24 hours. But MJ, not exactly the world’s foremost expert on perspective, concluded his statement with, “In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.”
It wouldn’t matter if there was one black player, or two. Discrimination is intolerable, period. Unless one of your business partners is Donald Sterling.
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