In his remarks before the Silver decision, Mark Cuban went on to say that in America people are allowed to be morons. That’s true, and proved every day in the halls of Congress, on cable television, and on barstools everywhere. This was a rare instance, though, where the anti-moron message could have been an authentic, populist one. Donald Sterling shouldn’t own the Clippers. But Cuban is right: The NBA shouldn’t divest the moron of his team.
It’s quite a dilemma. I don’t think there’s any way Sterling could hold on to this team given the firestorm of criticism. Organically, this was I think always going to be the outcome – and rightly so. The NBA’s approach helps – for the time being – avoid the additional spectacle of player walkouts, national sponsor boycotts, and the like.
I continue to be amazed that Sterling’s long record of discrimination and racism was ignored for so long. Hell, the local NAACP gave him one lifetime achievement award and were about to issue another.
Cuban’s point, though, is an important one. Where are we as a society if we think we can expropriate property from a private citizen simply because we find his personal beliefs abhorrent?
Boycott him. Yes.
Refuse to work for him. Absolutely.
But shouldn’t Sterling be the one who determines how and whether he disposes of his property?
On the other hand, an NBA franchise is part of a larger business proposition. At some point the disgrace of one franchise sullies the entire brand. We clearly reached that point with this controversy – though again most people have known Sterling as a racist slumlord for decades – where the NBA’s other owners were right to take steps to protect the NBA brand.
A lot of grey areas once you get past the simple idea that he (Sterling) should no longer be associated with the league.