Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has been banned from the National Basketball Association for life. “Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life with any association with the Clippers or the NBA,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this afternoon at a press conference, where he confirmed that a leaked recording of Sterling allegedly making racist remarks was authentic. Silver also announced that he would encourage the NBA Board of Governors to force a sale of the team, which Sterling has owned since 1981.
Sterling was a figure likely known only to basketball fans before this weekend, when TMZ leaked an audio recording of the octogenarian millionaire allegedly telling his girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring black people to Clippers games and chastising her for posing with Magic Johnson in pictures posted on Instagram. The backlash was severe and immediate, with everyone from the ADL to President Obama condemning Sterling’s comments.
Sterling’s comments are reprehensible—as is his very public, though not much-commented-upon history of racist and generally loathsome behavior. That Sterling is Jewish has the Jewish community cringing doubly—”ein shanda fur die Goyim,” Marc Tracy called the whole debacle in The New Republic.
At today’s press conference, Silver was asked the seemingly strange question of how he felt about the controversy—as a Jew himself, that is. “I say my response was as a human being,” Silver responded, which is perhaps the best way to view it. Sterling’s comments are morally repugnant, no matter who he is.