In the wake of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to ban LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and force him to sell his team, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, and two other civil rights organizations issued a joint statement Tuesday arguing that Silver’s actions were not enough and requesting a formal meeting with him to talk about restructuring several policies in the NBA.
After canceling what was going to be the organization’s second lifetime achievement award to bestow upon Sterling and returning money he had donated, the NAACP has joined with Sharpton’s NAN, the National Urban League, and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in issuing a joint statement requesting that they be a part of the conversation about making some major changes in the NBA.
The AP reports that the groups are primarily concerned with discussing “diversity in the executive ranks” of the NBA and taking measures to ensure that the NBA is no longer in danger of allowing racism like that demonstrated by Donald Sterling to be a part of the league.
After calling Silver’s statement a “bold, courageous and resolute message,” the group argues that his lifetime ban and forced selling of the LA Clippers was too little too late.
Sterling's long-established pattern of bigotry and racist comments have not been a secret in the NBA. Yet until now, they have been tolerated and met with a gentle hand and a blind eye.
To ensure that Sterling "remains an anomaly among the owners and executives in the league," Sharpton and company insist that Silver meet with them to discuss diversifying the NBA's leadership:
Our goal is for Commissioner Silver to extend these efforts beyond a reactive approach to one egregious situation to a proactive approach that will allow him to set forth and enforce clear policies and codes of conduct that reflect the best of the NBA, as well as foster a league culture that is as inclusive in practice -- at all levels -- as it is diverse in players and fan base.
The NAACP had planned to give Sterling his second lifetime achievement award on May 15th for what the AP describes as “his long history of donating to minority charities and giving game tickets to inner city children.” Sharpton was also going to be honored at the event, being awarded the first annual Person of the Year award.
In the aftermath of the Sterling scandal, the organization has announced that it will be reviewing its criteria for awarding such honors in the future, stating, "We will be developing guidelines for our units to help them in their award selection process and prevent unfortunate decisions like this from occurring in the future," the organization said.
When the recording of Sterling's inflammatory remarks first circulated, Sharpton threatened to "mobilize" NAN against the NBA, declaring, "We are prepared at National Action Network to rally in front of the NBA headquarters if this matter is not immediately dealt with."