LeBron James has been unflinchingly stern in his opinion that Donald Sterling should sell the Los Angeles Clippers. Miami Herald columnist Glenn Garvin, though, has a few questions for LeBron about that. Mainly, he wants James to address every sports controversy to ever happen.
James is understandably busy at the moment and probably does not have time to feed the trolls. So we thought we'd just step in here and answer the questions for him.
Does it matter what the law says about this?
LeBron James has not yet obtained a license to practice law in any U.S. state. Nor has he been appointed to any judgeship. So, no, as far as James having an opinion on the matter, it doesn't really matter what the law says about this.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, the law matters, but that doesn't mean James doesn't have the right to use his leverage as the biggest figure in the NBA to create public pressure on Sterling to sell the team. Which I think we can all agree would be the best thing for everyone involved, including the 29 other owners, the players, the fans, and probably Donald Sterling himself (who will net a big return on his initial investment of $12.5 million). Clearly the idea here is to shame Sterling so much he'll just give up quietly and sell on his own -- or at least not tie this up in court.
Is there a danger in setting a precedent that somebody can be kicked out of the NBA for holding an unpopular opinion?
Saying Donald Sterling is only guilty of having an "unpopular opinion" is like saying a murderer is only guilty of having the opinion that someone else should be dead.
The man has been sued and fined multiple times for discriminatory housing practices. He's refused to rent out apartments to people based on their race. This isn't an "unpopular opinion." This is actual institutional racism. The main thing his caught-on-tape remarks did is shed a brighter light on his racist past and make people wonder why in hell the NBA hadn't punished him before.
If Sterling should be kicked out of the NBA, why not Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudamire, Roy Hibbert, Matt Barnes, and the entire Houston Rockets?
All of those NBA colleagues of yours have been accused of public homophobic slurs during the past three years, and in every case except that of the Rockets, their words were captured on video.
The alleged Rockets incident was brought up in a lawsuit that's still making its way though the system. In every single one of those incidents, the players involved used homophobic slurs to taunt people who weren't even necessarily gay. They all were fined, as they should have been, and they all publicly apologized. It's disappointing and ugly, but it's not, y'know, institutional homophobia.
And this trolling of a member of one historically oppressed group standing up against a racist and wondering why, hey, they didn't stand up publicly for other minor incidents of intolerance toward another group is the kind of logic that makes sense only to people like Garvin.
We're not talking here about just "an opinion." We're not talking here about banning everyone for life from the NBA who has ever shared any sort of unpopular belief. We're talking about a man who owns a team in a league that relies on the talent of several black players and a black coach with myriad black fans and who has a disturbing and long history of anti-black racism.
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Garvin then ends with this kicker that accuses James of being tolerant of homophobia: "Is it impudent for us commoners to ask why there's room in your kingdom for homophobia, but not racism?"