In his assessment of the NBA's decision to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racist remarks, The CHB compares rookie NBA commissioner Adam Silver to that legendary MLB head Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Ironically in a column about judges and judgments, Shank gets both the spirit and the facts wrong.
CHB: "Critics of Silver and the NBA raise legitimate questions about the NBA being late to the party in disciplining Sterling. ... Without the proverbial smoking gun, the NBA was neither encouraged nor empowered to remove Sterling."
Wrong. The NBA began fining Sterling for his various transgressions as far back as 1982, and in November 2009, Sterling agreed to a fine of $2.73 million, plus another $5 million in court and legal costs, to settle federal and local charges of housing discrimination. And that doesn't include the alleged witness intimidation charges leveled by police after Sterling's then-teenage son shot a friend in a dispute over a girl. The gun, it appears, was literally smoking. The bigger issue is whether the NBA wants to be in the business of firing its owners, a move that assuredly will diminish the allure of the franchises, since that it takes an already rare combination of huge egos and huge wallets to even get in the game, and those who attain both are not generally open to being told what to do.
But let's look at the comparison of Commissioner Silver and Judge Landis. Silver, and the NBA in general, have been the hands-down leader in racial integration and acceptance. The first all-black starting lineup? NBA. First black head coach? NBA. First black general manager? NBA. First black majority owner of a professional sports team? NBA. Silver is inheriting a long tradition of embracing minorities in every role.
Landis, by contrast, is probably the single most responsible person for perpetuating the unwritten ban on minorities in major league baseball. Even those critics who argue Landis was not a racist tend to agree that he did nothing to try to change the status quo. All Landis has in common with his NBA brethren, it would seem, is a title.
Given The CHB's well-documented stance on minorities -- "prima donnas" -- it is apropos he wrote this column. Given his track record, however, we're surprised he is taking Silver's side.