Sterling Continues To Detract From NBA Playoffs

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has got to be hoping each of the remaining playoff series goes seven games, and that each game goes down to the closing seconds.

He’d no doubt love to see LeBron James or anybody else pull the rim and the backboard down in a shower of glass and glory during a dunk.

He’d probably delight in more complaints like the ones Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers expressed about the officiating on Tuesday night.

Any distraction from speculation about the future of Donald Sterling and the Clippers would be welcome in the commissioner’s office.

Sterling has been an embarrassment to the NBA for decades, but only people who follow the NBA had noticed until Mr. Sterling’s behavior, past and present, became everybody’s daily business. Now even people who don’t know a basketball from a butternut squash are aware that a clown with more money than he can count can own a pro basketball franchise.

With his clumsy, sometimes impenetrable attempts to hammer his recorded conversation with his former girlfriend into an acceptable context, Sterling has provided powerful evidence for the efficacy of just shutting up.

Some of the issues connected to the circumstances Sterling has created for himself transcend the man and the game in which he used to be involved.

For example: Should the NBA or anybody else –- private employer, the state, whoever — be able to discipline somebody on the basis of a private conversation that may have been recorded surreptitiously?

Is bizarre, racist and hateful speech grounds for forcing a businessman to sell his business?

Assuming it is, should the soon-to-be ex-wife but still-partner of the exiled businessman be penalized as well?

Even absent the NBA's code of conduct, should the rules that apply to the owner of an NBA team apply to, say, the managing partners of a brokerage house? The CEO of an automobile company?

Beyond all that, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if all the woodchucks were attorneys? A lot, is my guess.

Perhaps Silver is clinging to one of the few reasonable things Sterling has recently said, which is that in a prolonged court fight between himself and the NBA, nobody would win. That statement would seem to suggest that after he’s maintained that Magic Johnson invented climate change after he shot JFK, perhaps Sterling will retreat forever to a secret, soundproof and well-appointed lair.

Until then, Silver can only hope that some night the Miami Heat will score 210 points, or that a heretofore obscure point guard will take over for the unconscious pilot and land his team's plane safely during a lightning storm.

Otherwise, unhappily, the tales about — or starring — Sterling will continue to be the NBA stories du jour.

This segment aired on May 14, 2014.

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Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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