Adam Silver posterized Donald Sterling on Tuesday.
When you see an NBA player pull this off, the ferociousness is breath-taking, especially given the degree of difficulty.
Don’t settle for a fadeaway, don’t meekly dribble around looking for a seam and a finger roll . . . take it hard to the rack through traffic and just cram it through the rim as if that last sorry defender wasn’t even there.
It doesn’t always work, but if you’ve got the hops and the willpower, sometimes it’s simply the best available shot.
And the crowd goes wild.
Word of advice, though: Don’t stand there and pose. Get back on defense.
The NBA commissioner delivered the harshest sanction at his disposal against the racist owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, banning him for life; fining the max allowable, $2.5 million; and enlisting the owners to force Sterling to sell his team.
Just three months on the job, Silver announced his decision before a packed house in New York and was roundly applauded — deservedly so — for the swiftness and severity of the punishment, which set a precedent for a major pro sports league in this country.
For a billionaire like Sterling, the fine amounts to a parking ticket, but at least the money will be directed to organizations that promote tolerance and anti-discrimination.
More importantly, the NBA will move forward to permanently and completely remove this human stain from its court.
I suspect that a significant part of that process will be lengthy legal wrangling with Sterling, who won’t go quietly.
The owners surely want to vote him out because of genuine outrage and concern for the future of the league, but their ability to do so, based on some examination of the NBA constitition and bylaws by several legal experts, could be compromised.
If Sterling is forced to sell, he’ll laugh all the way to the bank with what has been estimated between $700 million and $1 billion for the sale price. Good riddance, anyway.
Silver’s performance on the podium revealed deeply personal sadness and disgust, but also the shrewd efficiency of a brilliant lawyer with unflagging conviction of his position.
He barely sniffed at a question that suggested that Sterling’s First Amendment rights may have been violated by the secret tape, saying, “Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they are now public, and they represent his views.”
Good for him. It’s too bad that it takes a smelly affair like this one to remind us that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences, but there it is.
Before we trumpet this story for all the good that it could bring, it also reminds us that the NBA enabled this vile rich toad for years and years.
He has a long history of misogynistic and discriminatory behavior — not just speech, but behavior — that has repeatedly landed him in court.
The pattern has reinforced an institutionalized racism and sexism allowed to exist by virtue of financial wherewithal and bellicose legal tactics that the vast majority of us don’t have.
It’s a system that encourages someone like Sterling to shield himself by throwing loaves of bread to the coliseum crowd, as he did by making donations to the NAACP.
The Sterling case shows us that people with his power and riches can get away with that stuff, and do it all the time. Well, until your mistress records you openly expressing how you really feel about people.
The NBA is a business, too, a very lucrative one.
Silver needed to bring the hammer down because the Association, with minorities representing over 70 percent of its players, doesn’t need a racism scandal and surely can’t tolerate one. Just ask all the corporate sponsors who jumped the Clipper ship.
So, not every power move to the hoop is going to be as clean as you’d like it to be.
You misjudge the rim, you mis-time your move, you get hacked. Maybe the ref calls a charge.
Not this time.
Adam Silver did what he had to do for the good of the NBA and what he was compelled to do in his heart.
I don’t expect Sterling’s defense to be feeble, but it will be futile.
I’m looking forward to the day when the ref tells the ballkid with the mop, “You missed a spot.”