He lunged, grabbed his boss and violently choked him. After being restrained and told to leave, the man returned, attacked his victim yet again by punching him in the face, and threatened to kill him. It was just the latest in a string of serious incidents involving the employee.
How much jail time did this violent offender receive? None.
Incomprehensibly, he wasn’t even fired, and for good reason: He played in that bastion of hypocrisy, the NBA.
Let’s get this straight. Latrell Sprewell, who played for the Golden State Warriors at the time of his assault, received a suspension and fine, with the NBA sending the message that a player physically attacking his coach will merely get slapped on the fingers. Compare that with the punishment handed out to Donald Sterling, the race-mongering owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who gets banned from the NBA for life, fined millions, and may be forced to sell the team — for making incredibly racist comments during a private conversation, which, if Sterling didn’t give his consent to have recorded, may have been illegally obtained.
In handing down Sterling’s harsh sentence, the league has shown its immense hypocrisy, allowing criminal acts, but banning legal — no matter how repugnant — activity. Welcome to Amerika.
The biggest irony is that race relations, not to mention freedom, will take a hit because of the NBA’s actions. Consider:
1. First, let’s state the obvious: In the most elegant parlance, Donald Sterling is a scumbag. He has an unsavory past, possessing what clearly seems to be a discriminatory mindset. As a real estate mogul, he received a record $2.75 million fine for racial discrimination in renting. Sterling could even have faced criminal charges. But harboring racist tendencies, especially in private, isn’t a crime.
2. With such a checkered history, why didn’t the NBA address these issues over the years? It would be one thing if Sterling had been censored repeatedly, and this latest incident was the final straw, but clearly that wasn’t the case. Unfathomably, the NBA claimed it had no real knowledge of Sterling’s past.
3. The spectre of people willfully accepting their privacy rights being violated is terrifying. When commentators and politicians use phrases like, “There is no more privacy,” we might as well hang it up, for if that’s the case, America’s uniqueness is gone. Respect for freedom of speech and privacy rights — even for the most reviled — has set America apart from every other nation in history. If those things dissipate, the world’s last beacon of light will be extinguished. And at that point, we actually become worse than countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, because we had greatness, but voluntarily gave it away, whereas those places have always been disdainful of individual rights.
4. Or — and this is by far the biggest issue — does an “offending” player or owner, who happens to be a particular ethnicity, get a free pass? If so, the NBA, and those cheering Sterling’s ban, should at least have the guts to state that such a double standard is acceptable.
It’s great for leaders and the media to publicly chastise Sterling — as they should — stating that bigotry and ignorance won’t be tolerated. But how many of these folks are consistent? How many cut off all ties to Jesse Jackson when he disparaged Jews by calling them “Hymies” and referring to New York City as “Hymietown,” or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the president’s pastor, after his virulent racist and anti-American outbursts? Not many. Both still operate free of protest and condemnation.
Incredibly, one “sports expert” told CBS that even though the “N” word is often used during NBA games (virtually always by black players) the league shouldn’t try to stop such language or levy penalties. “The ‘N’ word is always going to have a negative image associated with it, but it doesn’t compare to the racist remarks by Sterling,” stated Ronald Oswalt, CEO of Sports Marketing Experts, which operates one of the nation’s largest NBA blogs. “Being around NBA players, the ‘N’ word is just second nature and habit for some of them.“
What they’re actually saying is that certain language (the N-word) should be tolerated for a particular group of people.
Sorry. Wrong, wrong, wrong. That apologist mentality is just warped. Sure, there are varying degrees of racism, but ultimately, racism is racism. You can’t excuse and justify it in some cases, but not others. Doing so will never move society ahead. Never.
The quickest way to widen the gulf between races is for leaders on both sides to espouse blatant hypocrisy, picking and choosing which racist comments — and by whom they are said — to criticize. In the same way the “average” American increasingly believes politicians favor the well-connected, resulting in an all-time high mistrust of government, selectively meting out condemnation for racial incidents only builds a powder keg of resentment. People may not agree with how something is done, but if they feel it is done equally and without favoritism, they can live with it. That’s the whole point of the Equal Protection Clause — the law is applied equally. When that concept falters, so do people’s inclination to work together.
5. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is attempting to gain the support of three-quarters of NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. Two points:
If the NBA has any guts, every owner voting against Sterling should personally put up a share of the team’s $575 million value, and, upon buying it, donate all the proceeds to nonprofit organizations fighting racism (in all its forms) and advocating fairness in housing, and establish scholarship funds for minority children. Following that, they should sell the team to the highest bidder, with the proceeds again going to charity. Of course, they won’t do that.
» Assuming the NBA gets the votes, and that Sterling fights the decision in court, the NBA will almost certainly settle, for good reason. Sterling’s lawyers will, during the discovery phase of the case, uncover many skeletons in the closets of hypocritical owners. They should be mindful of the proverb, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
This issue is infinitely bigger than Donald Sterling and the NBA. It is about how we view each other as Americans, and more important, as people. It is about how we tackle difficult issues, and how solutions can only be realized if all are treated equally, with special privilege for none. It’s time, once and for all, to stop seeing things in black and white, and start living in a colorblind society, since we are all members of the only “race” that matters — the human race.