Shelburne: "That's The Million-Dollar Question"

Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life; would David Stern have done the same thing?

The DA Show
August 28, 2019 - 12:04 pm

In 2014, Donald Sterling’s mistress leaked audio of Sterling making racist comments. New NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded by banning Sterling from the NBA for life.

One must wonder if David Stern would have done the same thing.

“That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?” ESPN NBA reporter Ramona Shelburne said on The DA Show. “Maybe two-billion-dollar question, if we’re using that analogy, right?”

Steve Ballmer, of course, purchased the Clippers for $2 billion. Shelburne is revisiting the Sterling saga in a five-episode piece for 30 for 30 Podcasts, which includes interviews with Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala and Shelly Sterling, among others.

“I think David regrets not being able to do anything about it,” Shelburne said of the former commissioner, who resigned just a couple of months before the tapes were leaked. “He declined to comment for this podcast, so it’s hard to say. I gave him multiple chances to talk about it. It’s certainly not a proud part of his legacy. But Adam Silver, in his interview for this, he has a really interesting quote: ‘I think I would have ended up in the same place, but in some ways, my newness to the job helped.’”

Silver’s decision to ban Sterling for life was an exercise in executive power unlike anything the NBA had ever seen.

“He was able to make this decision without having to think about all of the other things he would be thinking about now – all the other considerations, the slippery slope, what it means for owners, the message it sends, the precedent,” Shelburne said. “He just made it from a moral high ground – and knowing that the players were so upset that they were about to boycott, it just made the decision easy for him. It certainly wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it made the decision easy and helped him feel right about it.”