SBD/April 29, 2014/Franchises

Editorial Boards, Columnists Place Blame On NBA, Other Owners For Enabling Sterling

Several editorials questioned Sterling's ownership even before his alleged comments
Two themes emerge from today's coverage of Clippers Owner Donald Sterling -- major market editorials weigh in and a sense the NBA is largely to blame for not acting sooner on his ownership. The following is a sampling:

FROM THE EDIT PAGES: The L.A. TIMES states Sterling "must sell the team" if it turns out that the recordings in which he allegedly makes racist comments have not been doctored or misrepresented.  If Sterling "doesn't do so on his own, the NBA should apply whatever pressure it can" (L.A. TIMES, 4/29). The SACRAMENTO BEE states Sterling has "been an embarrassment to the NBA and the organization he owns." The NBA for decades "turned a blind eye while the notoriously litigious Sterling freely tarnished the league's brand." But it is a "new world, and the NBA has a new brand, one that is global and multicultural and inclusive" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/29). The CHICAGO TRIBUNE states the "heartening thing about this whole ugly episode is that those reprehensible comments have been roundly and loudly denounced" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/29). The N.Y. TIMES runs with the header, "Why Did The NBA Long Tolerate Sterling?" The league's top leadership "tolerated and sheltered Mr. Sterling for much too long." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver "needs to make clear that there's no place in the league for owners with plantation attitudes, whether or not they're caught expressing them on tape" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29). A USA TODAY editorial runs under the header, "NBA Owners Can't Afford To Stay Silent On Sterling." Team owners so far "have found it too easy to be silent" (USA TODAY, 4/29). An L.A. DAILY NEWS editorial states, "Thousands of empty seats would send a loud message that, in the weeks and months ahead, L.A. won't support an owner with such backward views of much of the city's population." But a "smarter view is that staying home, in an effort to hasten Sterling's departure, is a way to support Clippers players and coaches" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/29).

IT'S ABOUT TIME
: In N.Y., Juliet Macur writes it "looks as if the NBA and its team owners have finally had enough of Sterling." It "only took the league 33 years" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29). In DC, Jason Reid writes NBA officials and owners "have justifiably come under fire for looking the other way for decades" regarding Sterling. If they had "acted long ago ... perhaps the current powder-keg situation could have been averted." But the NBA players "deserve some" blame. Although the recording "is potentially the first inconvertible audio proof that Sterling is a dunderhead racist, many players were aware of his wrongheaded views." High-profile players throughout the years "refused to challenge owners on their lack of action against Sterling" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/29). BUSINESS INSIDER's Tony Manfred writes the league has "ignored Sterling for decades, tolerating him in the hopes that he'd never do something to embarrass the league on a mainstream level." Now the league has "only itself to blame" (BUSINESSINSIDER.com, 4/29). USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes it is the owners "who should be leading the charge." They have "let this go on long enough." Brennan: "Where are the owners? They are Silver's bosses, not the other way around" (USA TODAY, 4/29). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence writes NBA owners "had never once called Sterling out for his bigoted ways." They were "always perfectly fine with him being part of their club." Now the owners are "finally starting to speak up against Sterling." But it is what the "most powerful men and women in the sport did not say that was most distressing." They need to "say that Sterling isn't welcomed in their club anymore" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/29).

NBA BEARS SOME BLAME: In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote the NBA "can partly blame itself for all this." Former Commissioner David Stern and the league's owners "enabled Sterling for years" (AJC.com, 4/28). In Phoenix, Bob Young writes Stern had to "know this day would come." He "evidently didn't have the stomach -- or support -- to do anything to stop it" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/29). SNY's Adam Schein said Stern "has to take a hit" over the current situation because "we've seen this before from Donald Sterling." Schein: "David Stern turned a blind eye" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 4/28). In Detroit, John Niyo writes under the header, "NBA Ignored Its Donald Sterling Problem For Too Long" (DETROIT NEWS, 4/29). WIP-FM's Howard Eskin said the NBA "can't be absolved of this problem because they have created it." Eskin: "They are enablers" ("On The Record," Fox News, 4/28). In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes no one "is more guilty" than the NBA (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/29). GRANTLAND's Charles Pierce wrote the NBA "has a lot to answer for in the career" of Sterling (GRANTLAND.com, 4/28).
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