Donald Sterling: The Punishment Fits The Crime

I understand Bill Zeiser’s “very angry thoughts” about the lifetime ban of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling by the NBA. But in the end, I can’t agree with them.

Sure, Mr. Sterling had his private thoughts outed after his girlfriend surreptitiously recorded them.

But seriously, did Mr. Sterling never consider that a tramp 50 years his junior whom he was plying with real estate and fancy cars might not have his best interests at heart? (He clearly suggested, using words I can’t repeat on these family-friendly pages, that she was sleeping with other men — and that he didn’t mind.)

Does a billionaire lawyer owner of an NBA team really think that he has a private life when he pals around with the world’s most obvious gold-digger since Anna Nicole Smith?

Add into the mix that Sterling’s wife (no, not ex-wife, actual wife and “partner for more than half a century” who didn’t seem to care that Sterling paid for young girlfriends to have sex with) was suing the mistress for a couple million bucks, and my first advice to Sterling about V. Stiviano would have been “watch your back.” But I guess he was too busy watching hers.

So it’s hard for me to feel bad for Mr. Sterling when he said something he never should have said — never even should have thought, but I’m not suggesting the Thought Police, just some common sense — and it got made public.

It’s also hard, or perhaps impossible, to feel sorry for Mr. Sterling getting in trouble for making vile bigoted comments given his past history of racist behavior and rhetoric, including that “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.” The NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, said that Sterling’s racist history was not part of the NBA’s decision-making process regarding the penalty, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should ignore it.

Putting aside whether Mr. Sterling should or shouldn’t be penalized for comments he made privately, the idea, as Mr. Zeiser suggests, that the reaction is some form of attack on free speech just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:

  • chartguy
    Comment from: chartguy
    04/30/14 @ 09:38:22 am

    I agree that it is not an issue of free speech. My concern is that the league is trying to force him to sell the team. He is 80 years old. Selling the team would force him to pay capital gains on almost the entire proceeds of the sale, since he only paid $12.5 million for the San Diego Clippers. If, when he dies, he passes it to his heirs, no tax will be paid. That amounts to a fine in the hundreds of millions of dollars, not the maximum $2.5 million. Sterling's comments were reprehensible. The NBA bylaws limit fines. Will the NBA abide by its own bylaws?

  • Madpinto
    Comment from: Madpinto
    04/30/14 @ 12:24:36 pm

    The league is a business, and the NBA is smart to want Sterling out of their hair. In the end, the commissioner can't force Sterling to sell, but putting pressure on him to get out is a rational choice for the NBA. I'm not defending Sterling in any way; his comments were despicable. However, I find the public's outrage and the league's castigation somewhat disproportionately harsh relative to other sports figures and club owners' actions. Several players who have been involved in rape, murder, dog fighting, and other criminal cases have made amends and resumed their careers. Certain owners have been charged with driving while intoxicated and various other infractions. I understand the NBA's eagerness to stamp out racism, and I agree racism has no place in our society. Yet, I worry that public fury can lead to dramatic punishments based more on emotion than reason.

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