Democratic lawmakers responded this week to the NBA’s lifetime ban on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling by suggesting that the league be given more power to impose heavier fines or strip owners of their teams for “racially insensitive behavior,” The Hill reported.
Multimillion Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA on Tuesday and told that he would have to pay a fine of $2.5 million following allegations he once told his girlfriend to “not to bring [black people] to my games.”
The fine and the ban is “a good symbol,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said.
However, he added, the NBA should have the power to go even further if it needs to punish its members for racially charged remarks.
“Some of the powers they have over players should be applicable to owners as well,” Thompson said. “So I think the league will have to strengthen their standing for owners so that, going forward, they will have to look at other sanctions, including forcing the sale of the franchise.”
Sterling’s girlfriend, V. Stiviano, is both black and Mexican.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling said in a conversation that was recorded without his knowledge.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday that the voice in the recording does indeed belong to Donald Sterling.
“I am banning Mr. Sterling for life,” Silver said, adding that Sterling is prohibited from attending any games or practices. “This has been a painful moment for all members of the NBA family.”
Silver said he would move to encourage the NBA board of governors to persuade Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981, to sell his team.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said Silver’s announced punishments were “a fair response to an insulting conversation,” but added that the $2.5 million fine is “a pittance” when you take into account Sterling’s total wealth.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), commended the league for reacting to Sterling’s comments with great speed, saying that it’s “a sign that the NBA gets it.”
“I don’t know if [the penalty] is … tough enough, but it’s a sign that they know what they’re dealing with, and they can’t let this kind of stuff happen,” Becerra said. “We’ll see how it plays out, but just giving this guy, this billionaire, a little petty fine and leave it at that? I mean, let him talk to his players and see what they think.”
Some Californian lawmakers have called for a boycott of Clippers games, but Democratic lawmakers on the Hill warn that such a move will only hurt the fans and the players.
“I understand it from a player’s point of view,” Butterfield said. “This is their job. This is their future. This is how they support their families. And so the players don’t need to be in a state of uncertainty.”
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