As one NBA owner after another releases statements condemning Donald Sterling’s racist remarks, it almost seems inevitable that Adam Silver will drop a hammer — at the very least a fine and lengthy suspension, but perhaps worse — at his press 2pm ET conference today. While Mark Cuban repeatedly denounced Sterling’s commentary, he is wary of the implications of Sterling’s outright banishment.
“I think there’s a constitution for a reason, right? Because this is a very slippery slope,” the Mavericks owner said last night, via ESPN Dallas’ Tim McMahon. “What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with, and I don’t want to be associated with people who have that position.”
Last year at SI, I researched owners who have been suspended, banned, or forced to sell their teams, and it’s an exceedingly rare occurrence in professional sports. As best I could find, the only time it’s happened in the NBA was when Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was suspended after he reached an under-the-table agreement with Joe Smith that skirted league salary cap rules.
In all likelihood, Cuban will never say anything nearly as inflammatory as Donald Sterling — who has an extensive history with racial insensitivity — did, but one can see why he would be concerned about any league bylaws that could potentially cause his franchise to be unilaterally taken away on the basis of private conversation.
As an aside, speaking of Sterling’s past, Adrian Wojnarowski had a compelling theory as to why he was tolerated for so long by the rest of the NBA owners:
"For so long, the rest of the NBA’s owners never minded Sterling, because he was never a threat. The Clippers missed the playoffs over and over, bungled trades and draft picks, and the competitive advantages of leaving Sterling in place far outdistanced the moral outrage of his despicable history on race and decency."
Adam Silver’s press conference is appointment viewing today.
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