Tag Archives: Adam Silver

Silver Lays the Hammer Down on Sterling and Racism

2 May

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver imposed a lifetime ban on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling who made racist remarks in a conversation taped by his girlfriend.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver imposed a lifetime ban on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling who made racist remarks in a conversation taped by his girlfriend.

PHILADELPHIA—In what was the first major crisis of his tenure as the commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver laid down the moral authority of his leadership like an emphatic LeBron James slam-dunk.

A few days after hearing the bizarre audio of Donald Sterling’s racist rant with his girlfriend, Silver banned the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers from the NBA for life.

That means that Sterling is no longer allowed to participate in any aspect of the franchise—from personnel decisions to attending the NBA’s Board of Governors Meetings.

Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million and is recommending that the league’s Board of Governors force Sterling to sell the team.

The commissioner’s action was applauded by Philadelphia 76ers Managing Owner Josh Harris. Sterling’s views have no place in the league, Harris said.

“The Philadelphia 76ers completely support NBA Commissioner Adam Silver,” Harris said in a statement issued by the team. “There is no place for any type of discrimination in our society, and those hurtful and ignorant comments are contrary to the core values and beliefs of our ownership group and organization.”

Sterling’s bigoted telephone conversation with his girlfriend was the tipping point of a sordid racist past that includes the largest housing discrimination suit the Department of Justice has ever filed on behalf of Black and Latino tenants of his apartment building and a lawsuit by NBA great Elgin Baylor, who accused Sterling of running his franchise like a Southern plantation.

The way Silver used the bully pulpit of the commissioner’s office to sanction Sterling was reminiscent of the way President Lyndon B. Johnson used the moral authority of the presidency when he urged a joint session of Congress in 1965 to pass the Voting Rights Act.

“Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multiethnic league,” Silver said at Tuesday’s press conference.

“I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and cause current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league.”

Silver also issued an apology to the game’s Black basketball players who broke the color line in professional basketball like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson, whose Instagram photo with Sterling’s girlfriend apparently sent the Clippers owner over the edge.

The NBA and Clippers brands were damaged with advertisers and sponsors thanks to Sterling tapes. Carmax and State Farm Insurance withdrew their sponsorships with the team, although State Farm retained its association with Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

Silver urged the departing sponsors to rethink their decisions.

“I would say that those marketing partners of the Clippers and partners of the NBAshould judge us by our response to this incident and I think we have responded appropriately,” Silver said. “I would be hopeful that they would return into their business relationships with the Clippers. … I can understand how upset they are and I’ll do my best to bring them back into the NBA Family.”

Silver’s handling of a potential crisis in his sport from a historical standpoint is comparable to that of Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who became the commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1920 in the aftermath of the Black Sox scandal in which several members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to fix the 1919 World Series.

Landis’ first act as commissioner was impose a lifetime ban on the players involved in the gambling scheme even though they were exonerated in court.

In banning Sterling, Silver made it clear that whether it’s player or owner, no one is above the league enough to run afoul of its rules or to damage its brand.

“My message to Clippers fans is league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach, any one player,” Silver said. “This institution has been around for a long time and it will stand for a time.”

NBA Commissioner Silver Needs to Take Action on Sterling

27 Apr

Having a Racist Owner is Bad for the NBA’s Brand

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and The Philadelphia Sunday Sun

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he is investigating alleged racist remarks by Los Angeles  Lakers owner Donald Sterling.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he is investigating alleged racist remarks by Los Angeles Lakers owner Donald Sterling.

PHILADELPHIA—You’d like to think that the sports world would be the one place where the problems of the world could be put on hold in favor of living and dying with the fortunes of our favorite team.

But the stark reality is that sports reflect the good, the bad and the ugly of our society. This past Saturday we definitely saw the bad and the ugly when Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racism infused conversation with his bi-racial girlfriend became the outrage of the social media world.

This incident is the latest version of Sterling’s series of Racist Mixtapes released during his tenure as the owner of the Clippers. From being the defendant in a landmark Fair Housing lawsuit brought by Black and Latino tenants of his housing properties, to his treatment of NBA legend Elgin Baylor, that Sterling’s racism went unchecked by the National Basketball League has me scratching my head a little.

Especially since this is the same NBA that enforced a dress code on its players because former commissioner David Stern felt that Black athletes wearing cornrows, gold chains, and high-priced sweat suits was “off-putting” to some of the millionaire patrons that purchase courtside seats and luxury boxes.

This was also the league that acted swiftly when Ron Artest went into the stands and fought Detroit Pistons fans at the Palace in Auburn Hills in 2004, suspended former NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf when he refused to stand for the National Anthem in 1996, and has even fined two Los Angeles-based players, —Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Matt Barnes of the Clippers—for slurs they’ve made on the court.

Yet Sterling was able to be a fairly public bigot without even so much as a slap on the wrist.
Condemnation for player offenses was often meted out quickly under the Stern administration. Anything that brought dishonor to the brand was handled quicker than Olivia Pope could come up with a press strategy.

But Stern isn’t the NBA’s commissioner anymore. Adam Silver is. And this the first assault on the brand on his watch. He’s investigating, but everyone wants to know how he’s ultimately going to handle this.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling has a history of racist incidents.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling has a history of racist incidents.

Silver needs to take a good, long look at Sterling’s history as an owner. He needs to talk to former Villanova coach Rollie Massamino and ask him if Sterling really said, “I wanna know why you think you can coach these niggers…” He needs to talk to Elgin Baylor about Sterling’s vision of “Southern Plantation”-type structure for the Clippers in which a White coach presided over “poor Black boys…”

And he really needs to get a copy of that 2009 Fair Housing suit if for no other reason but it shows a pattern.

And if finds that the smoke we’ve seen is coming from the equivalent of a California brushfire, Silver needs to figure out a way to handle this situation. Does the league take control of the Clippers? Do they try and work out a deal in which he sells the franchise?

The league only needs to look at how another professional sports league, Major League Baseball, handled a similar situation. When late Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott made remarks praising Adolf Hitler and referring to her Black players, Eric Davis and Dave Parker, as her “million-dollar niggers,” the league decided it had had enough of her antics.

Since racism in America’s pastime is just bad for business, Schott was suspended from day-to-day operations with the Reds and was eventually made to sell her stake in the team.

For a league that’s roughly 80 percent African American, it’s inappropriate for an avowed racist to own a franchise. It is bad for the NBA’s brand to be associated who doesn’t want African Americans to come to the arena and watch other African Americans play basketball.

The Black players who have been sanctioned by the NBA for violating some form of league decorum are looking to Silver to handle this situation with the same sense of urgency used against them.

Racists like Sterling have no place in a league that’s been marketing itself as a worldwide brand. If Silver has any business savvy, he needs to understand that talking diversity on one hand while ignoring Sterling and his racism on the other sends the wrong message to fans and players.