The NBA and Damage Control

Banned for Life


By Eric M. Seidel, CEO

When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, he had little choice to act swiftly and decisively. Too much was at stake. Reputation, image, morale and, perhaps most importantly, money. Sponsorships and other revenue-bearing relationships were on the line. A number of sponsors already had bailed, and others were hedging their bets by “pausing” their relationship with the team and the league.

Silver’s declaration has been widely applauded and seems to have been a major step in getting the NBA’s business back to normal. But his work has just begun. There will be more, especially since some questions still beg for answers. 

For instance, Sterling’s bigoted business practices have been known for years. And that very question came up at Silver’s pronouncement news conference:

Clearly, Silver was prepared for that question. He had to be, since it was obviously going to come up. And he handled it well, at least for now. But this won’t go away. The league had a rotten apple, and apparently had turned a deaf ear and blind eye to the problem for years. Silver will have to come up with a better, more comprehensive and credible answer. Perhaps even admitting the NBA was remiss in failing to confront Sterling and his biases much earlier. 

Another question, however, just might have helped lead Silver to a response he’ll need to employ in the very near future: 

But, there’s also the other side of the coin. This was a private conversation that was secretly recorded and distributed for public consumption:

And the fact that Sterling reportedly admitted to Silver it was indeed his voice and his words helps solidify the commissioner’s position.

But both Silver and the owners have much more repair work to do.


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