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April 30, 2014 5:00 pm

Jewish NBA Commissioner Says Donald Sterling’s Racism ‘Incredibly Hurtful’ to All People

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Jewish NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announcing his decision to ban and fine LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments. Photo: Screenshot / ESPN.

Jewish NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announcing his decision to ban and fine LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments. Photo: Screenshot / ESPN.

Jewish NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Donald Sterling’s racism was “incredibly hurtful” to all people, “regardless of anyone’s religion, ethnicity, nationality,” when asked by Jewish Sports on Earth journalist Howard Megdal how Silver’s Judaism informed his decision to ban Sterling, the 25-year Jewish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, from the game for life.

At a press conference broadcast on ESPN on Tuesday, Silver, rather than as a Jew, said he responded “as a human being.”

“I used the word distraught before,” Silver said. “I spoke on Saturday morning directly to Chris Paul, to Doc Rivers, and  it wasn’t even anger at that point, I mean there was a certain somberness. And frankly I felt most strongly and personally for that team, how this affects every player and anyone associated with the NBA family.

“That for those players, and those coaches to go out and do what they need to do, and play at the highest level in the world, and have this hanging over them caused me to have a certain sadness I would say about the entire situation.”

“Regardless of anyone’s religion, ethnicity, nationality, I think this is incredibly hurtful,” Silver said.

Silver, who is also the chief executive of the NBA, has been in the top post since February 1, after 22 years at the NBA. Silver grew up in Rye, New York, and worked as a corporate lawyer before starting at the NBA in 1992. In 2003, Silver was named to TIME Magazine’s list of Global Business Influentials.

At the root of the scandal was a secret recording made of Sterling, 80, telling his much younger Mexican girlfriend, V. Stiviano, that photos of her on Instagram with former Los Angeles Laker player Earvin “Magic” Johnson were upsetting to him because he didn’t like seeing her posing with black men.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling asked her, according to reports on TMZ and Deadspin from the recording released on Saturday.

Sterling then tried to make his point by claiming that black Jews are seen as inferior to white Jews in Israel.

“You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs,” Sterling was recorded as saying. “There’s white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?”

Jewish human rights groups the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, and the American Jewish Committee , all condemned Sterling’s comments.

U.S.President Barack Obama said, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.”

Along the top of ESPN’s coverage of Silver’s press conference on Tuesday was a quote from Magic Johnson on Twitter: “Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life.”

The NBA Commission fined Sterling $2.5 million, and Silver didn’t specify if Sterling would be forced to sell the team, but said he would be encouraged to. Silver added that a three-quarters majority vote by the owners of the other teams could compel Sterling to sell.

CNN Money on Wednesday said the Clippers, which Sterling bought for $12 million in 1981, could be worth $575 million today. Meanwhile, the LA Times was already touting Magic Johnson, who has a net worth of $500 million, as a potential buyer.

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  • Amon Pizarro

    When they are not wealthy. Its a bad image fir a good christian to associate with jews. Dont you know?

  • Amon Pizarro

    Not africans by owning american blacks. They themselves were owned by africans.

  • George A.

    I simply can’t believe my eyes when I read that this Sterling rationalized his racism to a person of color (his black-Mexican girl friend) by citing that in Israel black Jews “are treated as dogs”.

    • bubbajanich

      I still do not know why the jewish community has not whipped up on Donald’s ass. you know that jews make a lot of money by owning Africans. THEY CAN JUMP. do jews make any money off of negroes that they pay millions of dollars to? is it a mutual agreement? why pick on one more jew who has slaves? in the workplace, you can quit your 100k job but if you are a negro owned by a jew, you can not quit your job. believe it or wait till Donald’s jew lawyers get through with the nba. that jew will make them wish they were still in Africa. sad but true.

  • The fact that Donald Sterling was born a Jew is irrelevant. He even changed his last name so it would not sound Jewish. I suggest the same Jewish organizations who received contributions from him, and are now condemning him, return the donations. What Sterling said was in private and the Black Mexican woman taped the conversation. The man is over eighty years old and his sentiments regarding people of color, unfortunately are not much different than others from his generation. Making this a Jewish issue is absurd. Should he wish to make charitable contributions to respectable Jewish charities, I encourage him to do so.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    • Ed Nworb

      Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg, with respect, I disagree with your argument that making this a Jewish issue is absurd. Donald Sterling made the whole thing a Jewish issue when he said “black Jews are 100% percent less than white Jews…”. He tried to convey understanding to a woman of colour, whatever we perceive her character to be, a lesson in understanding that [in] Israel Blacks are treated like dogs.” This is not only a Black issue, no. By Donald Sterling’s own mouth and words it is also a Jewish issue. One cannot be divorced from the other despite protestations to the contrary.

      • Sissy Rosenbaum

        Do you want to pretend that black jews are not treated as a joke?

  • Lynne T

    I can’t believe that Sterling’s remarks and conduct are being defended here, by people who would be howling in indignation, if instead, the story was about a wealthy non-Jew telling his mistress not to hang out with Jews.

    • Sissy Rosenbaum

      Why would any sane person advise anyone they like not to hang out with wealthy Jews?

  • Beatrix

    In the middle ages people were burned at the stake for having the wrong beliefs and people with the “right” beliefs joyfully watched. If Sterling had harmed black people and refused to allow them to play on his team, I could see indignation. In fact, he made black people millionaires and apparently felt friendship with many black people. Who knows the point of his remarks. His girlfriend was half black. Maybe he was jealous of black men. Maybe at 80, he’s becoming senile. Given his 30 years in the NBA, his remarks make no sense. But it doesn’t matter. Sterling was politically incorrect and has been reduced to ashes.

  • Mark Orr

    As the media jackals and politicians huddle and howl in self-rightious, politically-correct victory, dispatching yet another Shylock, Silver chimes in with eloquent, elegant collaboration.

  • Whatever happened to freedom of speech? freedom to have an opinion?

  • Ralph Levitt

    Mr. Silver, like his predecessor, Stern, is a pathetic, weak jerk and an embarrassment to the Jewish people.
    Sterling is an A1 mamzer BUT it was a private conversation with no suggestion of racial discrimination and he’s received awards from the NAACP.
    They’ve passed from opposition to discrimination to something new and unprecedented—thought control.
    The race mongers view the NBA as a slave plantation with
    black players/slaves and Jewish slave masters and plantation owners. This is a road wrought with peril.

  • Gabriel Eichler

    The real tragedy here is missed by most.

    A near senile rich old Jew is being lead by his nose to the gallows by an exotic looking young gold-digging prostitute whose sole purpose is to gather enough dirt on the old Jew -only to cash out one day – while bringing the house down on him and his family.

    Sadly, it is the oldest recipe in the grifter manual- the Bible of confidence scam “artists”….

    All those self-righteous critics should focus on the real issue not on the coached words of a senile old man…

    The perpetrator in the welder’s mask is no hero…

    A whore by any other name is a whore…

  • Victor Snitkovsky

    Jewish NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said stupid and cowardly speech. Mr. Donald Sterling is not racist. His players much more racists, than owner of the team. Donald Sterling’s phone talking with the bitch was very polite. But smart Jewish man must not connect with any bitches in any ways.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    In the midst of this PC mob, so smugly given voice by commissioner Silver, it would be useful to recall Voltaure’s classic liberal trope: “I don’t agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.”

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