Damaged Goods???

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

The National Basketball Association has had its share of bad publicity, and when stripped to the core of this bad publicity, race is at issue. In 2004, The Brawl at the Palace. From multiple players being charged with possession of firearms to Isiah Thomas’ sexual harassment suit, for Commissioner David Stern you may stop at anything to protect the image of your league. Institute a dress code: done. Reinventing the image will allow you to further expand your market globally, but there are still issues at home that you must deal with.

The league is more than its players, and far too often, we scrutinize players’ behaviors and sometime ignore others. For many, Commissioner Stern has been too silent on Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling. John Weinbach of AOL Fanhouse writes: “Over the last six years, nearly two dozen L.A. residents have sued Sterling for engaging in racist housing practices and Jim Crow-style bigotry. In a 2003 deposition, the 76-year-old real estate mogul admitted to paying a former employee to have sex with him in an elevator. Three years ago, the U.S. government charged him with ‘willful’ mistreatment of African-American and Latino tenants, and earlier this month, he agreed to pay the Dept. of Justice nearly $3 million to settle a federal racial-discrimination housing lawsuit, the largest award ever for a case of its kind. Since 2003, he has committed to give more than $8 million to plaintiffs to end housing-discrimination cases before they went to trial. To top it off, Sterling is currently being sued by Elgin Baylor, the Clippers’ long-time general manager and an NBA Hall of Famer, for age and race discrimination.”

Commissioner Stern has held meetings with players prior to the release of their rap cd’s, only to remind them that they have an image to uphold and protect and that certain lyrics would be offensive to many of the NBA’s patrons. Yet, when it comes to Donald Sterling, no public reprimand, no public distancing from the situation, nothing but silence. Former Major League Baseball commissioner Faye Vincent says that “If enough people are outraged or say they’re bothered by something an owner does, then the league will impose something. There’s no clear set of guidelines, and it’s a very difficult, murky area.”

A very murky area indeed. Sterling has denied the racism, and the settlements are not indicative that he has engaged in discriminatory practices. Regardless, the image of the league is in question. For Commissioner Stern, the delicate task is to appear heavy-handed in one area and completely inattentive in another.


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