NEW YORK -- Adam Silver just killed off the Frankenstein monster that his mentor David Stern helped create, and everyone will line up now to give their "attaboys" to the rookie commissioner. Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life, and charged the board of governors to force the Los Angeles Clippers owner and real estate mogul to do what he never does -- sell -- after Sterling admitted that was his hateful voice on the TMZ audiotape.
Silver did everything in his Manhattan news conference Tuesday but break out some video-game weapon and vaporize Sterling's image on the spot.
But really, this was no time and place for the NBA to be doing any end zone dances. In fact, the league should be ashamed that it ignored Sterling's long history of racist and offensive conduct before doing what any right-minded observer knew had to be done as soon as he or she heard the owner unplugged over the weekend.
And in case you are scoring at home, go ahead and blame Silver's predecessor for that.
David Stern never had a problem punishing his players for saying or tweeting remarks deemed offensive. When he fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 over his one-and-done use of an anti-gay slur, Stern said the following: "Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game."
Really, David? Donald Sterling had been saying insensitive and derogatory things for years, and what exactly did you do about it?
Stern fined Heat owner Micky Arison $500,000 for tweeting about a lockout, and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about $2 million in all for criticizing the refs. He fined Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor $3.5 million, took three of his first-round picks, and suspended him for a year for basketball's answer to Michael Pineda's pine-tar crime: He got caught playing the kind of funny salary-cap games a lot of executives were playing.
Stern fined then-Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy $100,000 for saying a league official had warned him that Yao Ming would be targeted by refs for illegal screens, and added that Van Gundy was "not going to continue in this league" if he kept talking. Stern fined Spurs coach Gregg Popovich $250,000 for daring to rest his stars in a regular-season game against the Miami Heat. In a different life, Stern even fined Sterling $25 million for moving his franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles without permission before reducing the penalty to $6 million -- this as a counter to Sterling's choice to sue the league for $100 million.
But Stern didn't bother to hit the Clippers' owner, or at the very least investigate him, when he gleefully admitted to trading money for sex. Or when he paid a $2.7 million settlement to the U.S. Justice Department after he was accused in a federal discrimination suit of saying that "black tenants smell and attract vermin" and that "Hispanics smoke, drink, and just hang around the building." Or when Elgin Baylor accused Sterling in a wrongful termination suit of establishing "a vision of a Southern plantation-type structure" for the franchise and of wanting a team of "poor black boys from the South" that, of course, would play for a white coach.