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