I want to begin my response to the NBA situation with a salute to business owners and people with financial resources who use their assets to make the world safer, healthier, better educated, and more beautiful. Because the “squeaky wheel gets the grease,” media attention is directed at Sterling’s awful behavior while so many go on doing good with little recognition. I’m sorry that we’re such a culture, so I begin by pointing toward the lovely, creative, and generous folks in our midst and saying to them, “Thank you.”
Then there’s Donald Sterling, the wealthy NBA owner who made despicable racist statements. I appreciate the NBA acting forcefully to communicate how contemptible his words are. Even so, I find myself nearly as outraged at the NBA as at Sterling. NBA people—commissioner, owners, and players—cannot be surprised that Sterling uttered such words. He has made his character clear many times, and all the while the NBA put up with him. Where was NBA outrage before when he was racist, testified to paying younger women for sex (why do we condemn women who sell sex but not the men who buy it?), or discriminated in housing practices? Apparently this time his behavior became too public to be ignored, so, suddenly, the NBA is outraged. Pardon my lack of sympathy. When people tolerate disgusting behavior, they shouldn’t be surprised when that behavior comes back to bite them
And why did the NBA tolerate his behavior? It surely looks like the league wanted his money. Other NBA owners, business people who make big bucks on sports, even NBA players who want huge salaries were apparently willing to bear Sterling’s loathsome behavior in order to have access to his money. Doesn’t that make the NBA as much a “gold digger” as many people consider his young girlfriend(s) to be?
The NBA needs to be as outraged at itself as it is at Sterling.