Sterling Digs Deeper Hole; LeBron Jumps in It with Him
This entire Donald Sterling episode is starting to resemble a Russian novel.
Crime and Punishment comes to mind.
Every day another plot twist is added; more are sure to come. And stupidly, most of the added intrigue is coming from the good guys.
First, the Commish gets stuck between a rock and a hard place. Faced with a revolt by the NBA's players unless he takes swift and strong measures against Sterling's certifiable bigotry, Adam Silver blurred the line between frontier justice and the modern-day legal system by pulling the Los Angeles Clippers franchise from Sterling.
That's going to be touch-and-go. Sterling may have made repulsive comments, but he broke no laws. Ironically, the more closely the American public considers the ramifications of Silver's decrees, the more sympathy Sterling is receiving.
So the Commish must have been high-fiving anything near him when the billionaire bigot put his other foot in it by needlessly dumping on Magic Johnson during his 'apology' attempt with Anderson Cooper on CNN.
And then, almost immediately, Silver discovered that his biggest star had gone all Pollyanna on him:
The Commish has to be wondering what James was thinking, especially when earlier, he sounded so level-headed about the task before the NBA:
|At the end of the day, this is going to be a long litigation when it comes to that. This guy who’s owned the team since the ’80s is not going to just give the team up in a day. So we understand it’s going to be long, but we want what’s right.|
Silver clearly took a calculated risk by deciding he and the Board of Governors could pull the Clips from Sterling, but make no mistake, it's far from a sure thing. He likes the NBA's strategy, just as Sterling likes his and his wife likes hers. Sterling will have numerous legal avenues to pursue, and all of them carry more weight than the league's. The owners are already skittish enough about what precedent might be set and will want as narrowly defined a judgment as they can get.
With the case so complex, there's virtually no way it will be decided before the next NBA season. James has ample time to climb down from his rash rant, and he surely will. The last tactic the players need to deploy is to set an unreasonable ultimatum and adhere to it, über-ironically, by acting as a virtual lynch mob.
The Commish doesn't need any more complications, either of fact or perception. He's already beginning to mirror a tragic character in another classic novel, Moby Dick.
And if he's not totally accurate in every move he makes, he and the NBA could be in a lose-lose situation, even more ironically as the result of a white whale.