The severity of sanctions against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments surprised one sports columnist, considering the NBA turned a blind eye to his behavior for years.
On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, banned Sterling for life
and fined him $2.5 million "deeply offensive and harmful" racist comments. Silver also said he would call on the league's owners to vote to force Sterling to sell the team. Such a move would require approval of three-quarters of the current owners, support Silver was confident that he has.
The controversy began over the weekend when the celebrity website TMZ.com released an audio recording with a voice said to be Sterling's criticizing his girlfriend for associating with "black people."
Orlando Sentinel sports columnist George Diaz told Ed Berliner and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on NewsmaxTV that his jaw dropped upon hearing the breadth of penalties Sterling is facing.
"Didn't see it coming," Diaz said. "There were some reports that he was going to be suspended indefinitely and fined $5 million. Obviously he was fined half that much, but the lifetime ban is Adam Silver bringing the pain on Tuesday afternoon to Mr. Sterling and frankly, kudos to him."
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Diaz marveled at the fact that anyone associated with the NBA, Silver included, would be taken aback by Sterling's remarks considering his history of bigotry. He has faced extensive federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination in his business dealings and has also been sued for sexual harassment by former employees. Until now, the NBA has taken no action against Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981.
"I don't consider this a defense of Sterling because he's a racist jerk and anything else you want to throw out there," Diaz said, "but the fact that yes, it's well documented, thoroughly documented and everybody just seemed to look the other way and it started with [former NBA commissioner David] Stern. It starts at the top there and it trickles down all the way to the NAACP that was going to give this clown a Lifetime Achievement Award. A lifetime achievement for what? Being a racist?"
Diaz said that it took this long for Sterling to be stopped is "really sad and pathetic."
"Look how it has played out," he said. "It took one of his bimbos to post something that was a recording that was obviously done on the side and to get it on TMZ.com for the outrage, for the outpouring of outrage. What does that say about us as a society when this has been a systemic problem for years and years?"
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