NBA’s response to Sterling comments sparks opportunity for conversation

I would like to applaud NBA commissioner Adam Silver for standing up for what’s right and carrying out a stern punishment to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Fortunately, Sterling’s controversial comments, although ignorant and unfortunate, will bring about some good conversation. Making an example of Sterling by eliminating him from the NBA makes it clear where the league stands on the issues of racism, and has also sparked a much-needed conversation about racism in America. About 76 percent of players in the NBA in 2013 were African American, according to a report from the ESPN site fivethirtyeight.com.

This series of events is coming off the heels of a leaked tape in which Sterling is heard talking to his girlfriend, Vivian Stiviano. Stiviano is half Latina and half African American, according to the leaked recording. The recording was shocking to many, that in this day and age, ignorance and straight up racism still exists is appalling to most.

“It bothers me a lot that you’re associating with black people. You’re supposed to be a delicate white or a delicate Latina girl,” Sterling said on the leaked tape which lasted around 10 minutes.

Stiviano maintains that she did not leak the tape. Regardless, the tape was released, and reactions were immediate. Public figures all over the United States spoke out against Sterling and called on Silver for punishment. I found the reactions to be refreshing. In today’s age, people found it shocking that attitudes such as Sterling’s still exist, and found it appropriate and necessary to speak out against such attitudes.

As a result of the fallout, many sponsors have already chosen to suspend ties with the Clippers organization, including Red Bull, State Farm and Sprint, according to a report from Yahoo Sports. The organizations did the right things and chose not to taint their organizations with ties to Sterling. Silver fined Sterling the maximum under the NBA constitution, $2.5 million to be given to charity and banned him for life. Silver is also fairly confident that he will be able to get the necessary 75 percent of the owners’ support to force Sterling to sell the team.

I am glad Sterling’s true colors came out; it is time to encourage dialogue on race relations in America. It is not enough that we can all drink from the same water fountains. For racism to be truly eradicated, ignorant and racist attitudes should have no place in our society. To do that, we need to talk about them.

While Silver was probably acting in order to best protect the financial security of the league, protecting a racist owner would lead to a further backlash. NBA leadership acted correctly and showed that racism and ignorant attitudes have no place within the NBA. These attitudes have no place in American society. Now is the time to talk about it.

Whitney Carter

Columnist

Contact Whitney Carter at wcarter16@my.whitworth.edu

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