Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 2nd 2014 Contents A69
Friday, May 2, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Owner of NBA team LA Clippers, Donald T Ster-
ling has received the maximum penalty the NBA
can give for his racist comments revealed in an
audio recording revealed this past weekend. It is
the strongest action taken by the NBA against any
owner of any NBA team in the sport s history.
Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA and
fined the maximum penalty allowed of $2.5 million
for his racist comments. An investigation launched
by the NBA led by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver,
included an interview with Sterling which concluded
that the voice on the audio recording was, in fact,
Sterling s and the opinions on the recording are,
in fact, his own.
Naturally the world has responded to the news
with their own opinions on the highly-publicised
recording that was made during a private conver-
sation with his former girlfriend but which, none-
the-less, has led him to serious repercussions that
have ended his involvement in the NBA beyond
just being the owner of a team.
In Silver s press release announcing Sterling s
penalties he described Sterling s comments to be
"deeply offensive and harmful" and as going against
the "sentiments of inclusion and respect that form
the foundation of (the NBA s) diverse, multi-cultural
and multi-ethnic league."
Many members of the basketball community who
move and operate in those circles were not so much
shocked by this breaking news as they were dis-
appointed and disgusted. Charles Barkley plainly
mentioned previous incidences of his known bigotry.
President Obama, a known fan of this sport and
sport in general, has also made public his support
of Sterling s sentence by the NBA.
Shaquille O Neal said that there is a difference
between "controversial" and "repugnant," a sen-
timent clearly shared by the LA Clippers team s
sponsors as the corporate backers moved quickly
to suspend or severe their contracts with the team.
It is a strong statement by the league and cor-
porate America, that this sort of conduct is intol-
The issue of racism in sport is nothing new. From
Fifa to the NFL, people have had to exercise dis-
cretion with their opinions as regards not just race
but also sexual preferences, the latter being a chal-
lenge particularly amongst the male gender.
The power of sport is vast. It is filled with lessons
that can develop each of us. This incident has
brought to the forefront some very real underlying
issues that are often just more easily dealt with by
sweeping under a rug.
The world has evolved to entitle people to their
own opinions and values. Time and again sport has
proven to be the arena that forces us as humans
to acknowledge our less pleasant qualities as humans.
Retired professional basketball player Kenny Smith
has commented on the point that this experience
can be used as a "teaching tool" to the new gen-
erations of players and minorities.
He made particular reference to the group he
described as the "new generation of new educated,
new wealth African-Americans" who may be placed
in similar circumstances where they need to handle
situations that have hit them on a personal level
in a professional manner.
Although this could have been handled in different
ways, to do nothing was not an option. Kenny Smith
stated that this should be used as a learning tool.
Banishing Sterling provided a sense of justice to
the players and the public. The swiftness of it helped
to curb and in some cases reverse the corporate
fall-out. It certainly sent a strong message on a
social level that once brought to light, this sort of
prejudice will not be tolerated or excused.
His ownership of the team has also been brought
to question by members of the public and by the
players both past and present. Perhaps this is where,
as Kenny Smith said in his interview, the choices
and actions of the players can make an example of
this situation, exercising their right to renew their
contract next season.
As a society, there are decisions that can be made
on the basis of ethics and moral principles to show
what will and will not be tolerated as a nation.
The silence of the billionaire to these events has
been noted and I am interested to see what the
future brings to this case.
Donald Sterling, right, and the woman who brought him down, Vanessa Stiviano.
a teaching tool
Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a certified athletic
trainer with the National Athletic Trainers'
Association of the USA.
She has over 11 years of experience
rehabilitating athletes and members of the
active population from injury to full play.
She can be reached at Pulse Performance Ltd,
located at: 17 Henry Pierre Street, St James. Tel:
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