Editorial: That hoe ain’t loyal

Everyone rejoice! Ding-dong the witch is dead! Or at least, that’s how most people are reacting. Of course, the witch isn’t so much dead as black listed from the NBA for life. Not that anyone is advocating the murder of either witches or racists, but is this ban really all that much to get excited about?

As many of you may know, last Saturday an audio tape was released which contained a shocking flood of blatant racism and implied sexism from the mouth of Clippers team owner Donald Sterling. Then, on Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Alex Silver announced that Sterling would be banned from attending all NBA games, fined the NBA’s maximum penalty of $2.5 million, and that he would personally recommend that Sterling be forced to sell his team.

Well, it’s a start in the right direction. However, not through any fault of his own or the NBA’s, Silver has effectively given Sterling a slap on the wrist.

Let’s start with the banning. They’ve just told a publicly outed racist and hypocrite that he can no longer attend events filled with thousands of people who’d like nothing more than to see him get his comeuppance. Really, the punishment seems more like a formality on a set of very good ideas for Sterling’s well being.

What about the fine then? After all, to the average joe on the street, $2.5 million is an impressive chunk of cash. Being the NBA’s highest possible fine, that’s got to be something pretty substantial, right? Not really. Already, analysts are predicting that Sterling could make as much as $1 billion from the sale of the Clippers.

Or perhaps Silver’s personal recommendation to the NBA owners that Sterling be removed then, is why everyone is excited. Finally, the nightmare of a racist, hateful old man owning the Clippers is at an end. Or might be, at some unspecified point in the future.

Unfortunately, for all of Silver’s personal outrage, Sterling’s removal is a process that will require the vote of three quarters of the league’s owners. Not that those owners are likely to want to keep Sterling around, but it’s a process that will take time, and could take even longer if Sterling decides to tie things up as much as possible in court. Meanwhile, Sterling will be laughing his way to the bank on the shoulders of the very players he’s demeaned and insulted.

It’s not that Silver and the NBA are at fault here. They’ve done everything they possibly could by the regulations of the NBA. However, those regulations don’t seem to take into account a situation quite like this one. When the rules aren’t adequate for the current situation, it can only mean that it’s time to take a fresh look at them with an eye for making improvements.

Sterling has done more than offend people, he’s tarnished the name of an entire organization. While the NBA’s releasing of its constitution to the public online is a good first step toward making change, the public needs to let the NBA know it’s not satisfied with the paltry punishment levied on Sterling. If Sterling refuses to sell his team, another boycott of Clippers games, or even a smaller, more symbolic boycott (such as no buying concessions) at all NBA games seems to be in order.

Maybe we can’t drop a house on Sterling, but just maybe we can throw a new, thicker rule book at him.