NBA does the right thing

In recent years, many professional athletes have rejected the notion that their privileged positions carry with them the obligation to be role models for the younger set.

It has been our view that everyone associated with professional sports should strive to set an example for sportsmanship and common decency. When they fall short of the second aspiration – decency – their descent should be swift and brutal.

It is heartening, therefore, to see the National Basketball Association punish Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling harshly for racist views he expressed in a telephone call to a girlfriend.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Sterling would be banned for life from the NBA and that he would seek to find a way to make him sell the Clippers. He also levied a $2.5 million fine against Sterling, but that will probably not have much effect on the billionaire.

But the lifetime ban will affect Sterling’s life – and lifestyle. No more games, no more practices, no more impact on the business of a big-time basketball operation. He is persona non grata – permanently.

It is incredible to us that an owner of an NBA team could hold the views Sterling expressed. The NBA has become the roaring success it has mostly because of the play of talented minorities – African-Americans, in particular.

It is hard to imagine the current price tags on NBA tickets without the likes of Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson. The league continues to rely on figures like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the Clippers’ own Chris Paul to fill seats and drive ratings.

To say that Sterling’s views are an insult to all these giants of the game is a vast understatement. It is also more than an insult to all the minorities who have supported his team and poured millions of dollars into his pocket.

Silver’s actions were correct – swift and as brutal as league rules could muster. Stripping Sterling of his ownership is all that remains to complete the fall.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.