Updated Tuesday, Apr. 29 at 2:55 p.m: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has banned Donald Sterling from all league activities for life, and has levied a $2.5million fine — the maximum allowable amount — against him.  Sterling’s ownership of the clippers is subject to a three-quarters vote from the other 29 league owners. 

 

It was one of the busiest sports weeks in recent memory – wall-to-wall NBA and NHL playoffs, a full slate of baseball, the release of the NFL schedule and the ultimate feel-good story about strength and redemption (American Men Keflezeghi claiming victory on the streets of Boston) – and, ultimately, none of it mattered. Ugliness and ignorance have a way of dragging everything and everyone down with them.

 

It’s hard to believe that just six days ago the thing that most outraged us was Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda’s penchant for pine tar aftershave. Then Donald Sterling took a 95 mile per hour express train to some place a whole lot darker and more disturbing.

 

The 81 year-old long-time owner of the Los Angeles Clippers has proven himself to be as loathsome as he is incompetent, leaving a decades-long trail of appalling treatment of minorities behind in his wake. It’s not as if the audio recording leaked by his mistress taught us anything new about the detestability of his character – or lack thereof – but to hear him espouse his racist (and sexist) beliefs so unequivocally and unapologetically was truly jarring.

 

To keep the Pineda reference alive, shame on everyone for turning a blind eye as Sterling played dirty for so many years, but was never so blatant about his cheating to force the hand of the lords of discipline. Alas, and at last, he went too far and did so too loudly. While it remains unclear what recourse first-year NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (welcome to the big chair) has to remove Sterling from his post, he must recognize the substantial harm that Sterling poses to the league at-large.

 

It is not always easy to detect racism, but there is something more universally recognizable about pain and betrayal, which were written all over the faces of the Clippers and coach Doc Rivers on Sunday. For those not in their locker room and not familiar with the many legal/contractual entanglements to which the players are bound, it is impossible to say whether their protest before Game 4 of their playoff series was too much or too little. We can, however, declare with certainty that they are due our full support moving forward.

 

Over the weekend, we were reminded that the NBA is, above all, a community. The physical brutality of football can reduce players to voiceless and faceless gladiators-in-masks, and the over-deification of history and tradition can lead to cultural tone-deafness in baseball. But one of the most remarkable developments of the weekend was watching the multi-generational titans of the game – Magic, Michael, Kobe and LeBron, among others – declare their disgust for Sterling and to do so with the utmost conviction and authenticity. Along with the fury, there was warmth and leadership and a powerful call for unity.

 

Perhaps the ultimate legacy of Sterling’s comments is not what they revealed about him; rather, it’s what they revealed about the character of the men who wear the uniforms, both past and present, who can no longer remain silent and who rightfully are demanding that we do the same.

 

What would you like to see Clippers players and fans do as protest or demonstration towards Donald Sterling?  Share your thoughts  in the comments section below, or you can always find me on Twitter @endbadly.