PUT ME IN COACH: Silver takes big step

New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handled his first league-wide scandal Tuesday by giving us an emphatic answer.

Silver suspended Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life from the franchise, as well as, any other NBA-related activities for making racist comments to his girlfriend about the guests she brings to NBA games.

Among the more crude remarks that were recently recorded and released to the national media, Sterling said that he didn’t want girlfriend V. Stiviano bringing black people to games and to not “promote” the fact that she “associates” with them.

Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million dollars – the maximum amount under the NBA?constitution – and, if Silver can get a three-fourths majority in a vote of league owners, Sterling will have to sell the Clippers.

This punishment served as an eye-opener.

As a society, how far have we come since Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing his first game with them on April 15, 1947?

More than 70 years ago sounds like a long time but, seven decades later, the NBA has just two minorities (Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats and Raj Bhathal of the Sacramento Kings) that have at least partial ownership of a team.

The picture doesn’t get much prettier as you look at the other major sports leagues.

In the NFL, only Shahid Khan, owner of the Jaguars and Ozzie Newsome, the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, are minorities who hold positions above that of head coach.

While nearly 50 percent of NBA coaches are minorities, only four out of the 32 NFL head coaches are minorities.

In MLB, only four managers out of the 30 teams are minorities. Arturo Moreno, the owner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is the only minority owner in a sport that is 28 percent Latino.

The evidence is clear as day.

Silver took a tremendous step forward toward a zero-tolerance policy against racism and discrimination in pro sports.

But there is still a long way to go.

EDITOR’S NOTE: David Merrill is a sports reporter for The Marshall Independent. He can be reached by calling (507) 537-1551, ext. 124 or by sending email to dmerrill@marshallindependent.com.