Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive shared his thoughts by phone shortly after NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced a $2.5 million fine and lifetime ban for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Silver also declared he would encourage NBA owners to invoke a clause whereby Sterling could be forced to sell the team. Ranadive's comments that follow here have been edited slightly for clarity and length.
What Adam did was fantastic. I support him 100 percent. He sent a very clear, unequivocal and decisive message that we will have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.
The NBA, and I call it NBA 2.0, is a global game, it's a global brand. It has a universality to it. And so I will not just second the motion, but lead the motion for us to do as Adam recommends. I believe that the other owners will support it as well. (Note: 29 of 29 have already expressed support.)
The owners I know, they all are colorblind. That was the irony of this situation, that the NBA is one of the most colorblind institutions in the world. To have that be challenged or embarrassed in the way Mr. Sterling did with his comments is bad for the game of basketball, and it's bad for the league.
It's a global institution and it has values. With technology and social media now, if something happens, you have the evidence and it's known to people. What the commissioner said was exactly right. It was brought to his attention. The evidence was there. The proof was there. He investigated it and he acted. I think it's a combination of circumstances. One is the changing nature of the sport, the universality of it, the global nature, it being more than a game, it being a set of values, and also now through social media and technology there's much more information available.
I expect it to happen quickly.
The commissioner has shown that he's decisive and we will be guided by Commissioner Silver.
Even if all that happens, we're saying, so, OK, you get punished. But you get a billion-dollar profit as punishment. Look, I don't think what the commissioner is saying is the least bit unreasonable. I fully support it.
I learned about it because one of my boys sent it to me. The TMZ article. I looked at it and I was shocked. It was extremely distasteful. The Gandhi quote came to mind. If you slight one person, then you slight us all. You slight the universe. You slight the whole world. It wasn't just Magic Johnson, it was all black people, and really, everybody.
I'm someone who has compassion. I'm not one to kick someone when they're down. But there has been no remorse or no statement. I believe that the commissioner did everything right.
Hopefully this brings about this dialogue among people, and it's something that will be discussed at dinner tables all over America and all over the world. Hopefully some good comes out of it in that you know, people get an even better understanding of each other.
I asked some people of color what they thought about this, and they shrugged and said, well, what's new? That hurt me deeply. I just think that maybe some goodwill come from this and there will be a more gentle dialogue and the NBA will be shining example of how we deal, and how we have a policy of zero tolerance on these issues.
To hear these stories and to hear people say yeah, we hear that every day. And so I can fully understand how a black person would feel. I just think that the fact that the commissioner acted on it at lightning speed, decisively, beyond maximum measures, it just shows that he's going to be a great commissioner.
I feel for the players and particularly the Clippers. I hope that with this bold action they can go back and play a great game. I texted Doc [Rivers] the day it happened and I told him to remember that the owners are just custodians. The game really belongs to the players and the fans and the city. Remember the great Jesse Owens who had to compete under the eye of Hitler. There are athletes who've had to compete under difficult circumstances before, I'm sure there will be difficult circumstances again in the future. Let's just have a great game.
I didn't hesitate to speak out when this first happened, and I feel very very confident the other owners will act according to Adam's wishes.