Keeler: Silver made the right call

Like many die-hard sports fans, I generally don’t pay much attention to owners in sports. I watch the games for the players. They’re the ones that are out there giving their all game after game.

Owners are more like referees — the less you hear from them, the better. I know a little about that since I’m a fan of some of the worst, such as Dallas Cowboy’s Jerry Jones and the New York Yankees with the late George Steinbrenner.

This week one owner, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The Clippers are also one of my favorite NBA teams, and like most people I was appalled by the racist comments made by Sterling.

I think first-year NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league handled the situation very well. They did an investigation, which determined that the comments were from Sterling, and they acted accordingly.

The $2.5 million fine is probably nothing for Sterling, but the lifetime suspension is on the money.

If Pete Rose can get a lifetime Major League Baseball ban for gambling, surely Sterling deserves that as well. There’s simply no place in this world for racism of any kind, in my opinion.

The reality is this won’t come close to stopping racism, and I’m not sure anything ever will. However, this sends a message to owners and players that this kind of behavior won’t and shouldn’t be tolerated.

If you’re a sports figure of any kind, it comes with the job. You’re held responsible for your words and actions. As a sports figure you are a celebrity, and have many that look up to you. I understand that he said the comments in private, but that’s no excuse, and as a celebrity you have to know that anything you say can always be made public at some point. You simply can’t make those kinds of comments, no matter how much money you have or who you are.

The NBA has an image to uphold, it’s a business, and it has to look out for the best interests of its organization. The last thing the NBA would want is to lose money or turn fans off because of something an owner said.

I expect the other owners to force Sterling out as owner and for the Clippers to be sold. Hopefully, they can stay in L.A., but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move to a city such as Seattle over the next year.

It was a bold move for Silver, but one I think needed to be made. It also shows me that Silver is going to take a stand when dealing with the tough decisions, and not be afraid of making the bold move.

I also think the Clippers as a team handled things well. They turned their uniforms inside-out during the National Anthem before Game 4 last Sunday against the Golden State Warriors.

L.A. coach Doc Rivers also handled things with his usual class. Rivers, the ex-Boston Celtic coach (my favorite team) is my favorite coach in the NBA and one of my favorites in any sport.

Rivers is part of the reason I became a L.A. Clippers fan in the first place. He played for the Clippers during the 1991-92 season, around the time I became a fan. He helped lead them to a rare playoff appearance.

I was very excited when Rivers left the Celtics to go to the Clippers. I hope he sticks around, and it’s been reported that he won’t if Sterling still owns the team next season.
The pressure is now on the owners to force out Sterling, and I truly believe they will do the right thing.

As a fan, I still love the Clippers and will be rooting for them to go all the way this season. I root for the players, they’re the ones that are important. However, if Sterling continues to be an owner I may have to rethink rooting for them next year.

All of this is really a shame in many ways. It’s a shame that we still live in a world where racism exists. It’s a shame that a great season by the Clippers will be remembered for this.
I’m still hopeful that the Clippers can win it all this year, but if Sterling is forced out by the NBA then the organization, and basketball as a whole will get the most important win.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd