Back in the 90's I had the good fortune to be part of the team that represented Rosa Parks in her negotiations with Apple so they could use her likeness in the "Think Different" campaign. I remember getting a speeding ticket on my way to meet with the team at Chiat Day that was handling the ad campaign and pointing out that of all the people in the campaign, only she and Bob Dylan were still alive, and of the two, he never really suffered the way she did, nor was he ever humiliated to the degree she was.
The NBA's swift action by Commissioner Adam Silver is the NBA's Rosa Parks' moment today surrounding the matter involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Much will be written about it. Many will speculate and question how the NBA could take such swift action, but as a former Commissioner of youth sports leagues, the whole action is likely covered under a very broad rule that allows the Commissioner to deliver pretty much whatever they wish to. The rule, which deals with "conduct detrimental to the league" is a very wide reaching catch-all, and if the Sterling commentary wasn't detrimental to the NBA, its heritage, its legends, its current players and the fans, I don't know what is.
Given I also worked for a year with an NBA team, the Denver Nuggets, and was around the Philadelphia 76ers for 15 years while working for the Flyer and Wings in Philadelphia, and who served also as a amateur hockey league commissioner who had to hand out suspensions and penalties many years ago, Commissioner Silver had no other option in the direction he could go. While the NBA's Board of Governors may think otherwise, in my day, the way we handled rinkside justice was supported by another rule. That one was even better, "the commissioner cannot be reversed retroactively."
Here's hoping Silver's act stays in place if for no other reason but for "the love of the game."
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