While it is absolutely true that the comments Sterling made were completely racist, idiotic and an affront to anyone with any sort of moral sensibility, he’s allowed to do that. It’s a completely stupid thing to say, but in this country he is allowed to say these things no matter how uneducated and moronic it makes him sound. This is why he is not being charged with any sort of a crime; it’s not a crime to be a complete tool.
Dallas Mavericks owner and generally outspoken guy Mark Cuban hit the nail directly on the head when he called this a “slippery slope”.
The NBA is a basketball league and is far from the moral police of the world. It can come out and say Sterling is a jerk, it can condemn him and it can refuse to talk to him at receptions. However, to ban him for life sets up a precedent where the commissioner could just go banning people all willy-nilly for whatever the league might not think is cool at that time. Today it’s Sterling for making brainless comments about black people, but tomorrow it could be a player having a tattoo someone didn’t like or converting to an unpopular religion.
The example is not as extreme as one might think; precedents are easily set and difficult to erase. Banning someone just because a lot of people think it’s wrong does nothing for the league, the game or any ticket-buying fans other than to give all of us a quiet sense of moral superiority in telling an old guy what to do.
Sterling’s comments are awful, but it’s not like he threatened violence. He’s allowed to do things like this, and the NBA should not be allowed to inflict groupthink moral judgements on him just because it will put the league on the good side of The Force.
It’s probably true that Sterling may never be served a drink that isn’t spit in for the rest of his life, but to ban him from basketball achieves nothing other than to open the door to ban people for just any old thing.