Silver Bans Sterling . . . For Life

200px-Los_Angeles_Clippers_logo.svg100px-NBALogo.svgWe previously discussed the racist comments of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. We discussed the possible sanctions under the NBA rules, which are confidential. This afternoon NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Clippers owner Donald Sterling will be suspended for life and fined $2.5 million. That blows away any prior sanction of the NBA.

Silver announced “I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers association or the NBA. Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices, he may not be present at any Clippers facility, and he may not participate in any business or decisions involving the team.” That is pretty much a demand that he sell the team though he could use his general manager for some of those functions.

The $2.5 million fine will be donated to anti-discrimination organizations, which is a particularly nice touch.

I have little sympathy for Sterling and found his comments deeply disturbing and unsettling. However, it will be interesting to see if Sterling, who is a lawyer, will fight the fine. He is being banned and fine for private comments that he did not intend to be released publicly. While this is not the government (raising first amendment issues), it is a free speech questions. We have been discussing how government employees like teachers and police officers have been punished for statements and activities in their private lives. I have opposed that trend. In this case, Sterling did not even intend for this comments to go to anyone other than his girlfriend.

The question is where the line is drawn on private comments. No one would suggest sanctions Larry Johnson for (after the Sterling comments) reportedly called for all-black teams and league or his prior comments calling players “rebellious slaves.” He was clearly upset with the news and venting on social media. I understand that. Indeed, his call for some black owners of NBA team is understandable given this controversy and reflects a long-standing objection to the paucity of black owners in the NBA. Yet, those were intended to be public comments and might be viewed as offensive by white players or owners or fans. If the NBA rules extend to private communications, I am curious as to how it distinguishes between comments both public and private. When it comes to free speech, we tend to favor bright line rules but this is a rule that is neither published nor clear. Sterling may be the easy case due to the vile nature of these comments but Silver does not address the standard that has been and will be applied to owners and players.

The counter to this argument is that, as a NBA owner, Sterling agreed to comply with the rules, including the undisclosed rules of conduct. His comments clearly created an embarrassment for the NBA and other teams. Yet, my guess is that these rules are vaguely worded and this sanction is far beyond prior punishments. He probably could challenge it under contractual and even anti-trust theories.

In the end, he is being banned for being a racist (which he vehemently denies). However, if he did not act in a racist manner to the team or fans, should his private views be the basis for a ban. What is owners are anti-gay or anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim in private? Can they all be banned if a third party reveals their views or a private conversation surfaces?

What do you think?

402 thoughts on “Silver Bans Sterling . . . For Life”

  1. Karen

    What major hospitals are not accepting Exchange policies?

    Seems crazy to me and a policy that will soon put them out of business. They sound like the House with their 52,000 votes to repeal.

    Your docs may be more successful. Small boutique practices may remain viable. But I think they’ll need an affluent practice.

    And I wonder if those hospitals and your docs plan on pulling a “Hobby Lobby” type of resistance. What kind of insurance are they going to provide for their employees? Will they reject any government plan for them, too?

  2. Karen, the story about your relative on a feeding tube is horrific. It must have been a terrible time for her, you, and your family. I’m sorry you had to deal with such an idiotic problem at that time.

    Bureaucrats exist. In private industry – in government programs. We all wish people were smarter. However, I’ll take the government bureaucrat over the one in private insurance. The “private” guy has an additional incentive – he wants to cut costs AND make a profit.

  3. About the doc Medicare pay cuts. Those have been a growing problem over the last ten years, a decade. Obama has not cut them 30%.

    “Federal law already triggers annual Medicare cuts to keep the program financially sound. But Congress has stepped in and blocked those cuts — which now stand at 29% — from happening more than two dozen times over the past decade. ”

    The sequester played a role in the last cuts.

    Congress will not address it. Look to the House. As they have made perfectly clear, they control the purse.

  4. Karen

    Glad to see you back.

    Regarding the cuts to Medicare. As I understand it, those cuts are for Medicare Advantage, a private insurance as opposed to the original Medicare. Unsurprisingly, this private insurance option, has costs that are 15% more than ordinary Medicare. We can’t afford it anymore.

    I’m not touching the IPAB controversy again, and I think the AMA is wrong in its assessment. As I said, I think they are a bunch of old reactionaries and have an agenda that does not include providing access to all Americans to healthcare. They liked the old way.

    I know many Medicare patients. They like it a lot. I had serious heart surgery paid by Medicare. Without Medicare I would be bankrupt and the hospital would not have been paid. Medicare is terrific. Medicaid kept my Dad alive after his kidneys shut down. I also like Medicaid.

    Elderly patients do become frightened about Medicare cuts.- because the right has been flogging that story for years. And then, they insultingly offer vouchers as a remedy. Those are the EXACT solution that will destabilize Medicare and force the elderly to pay a greater share.

    I believe your fears about end of life counseling are very misplaced. I think it would be a blessing to be afforded that care.

    I’m sorry I fell into using the “death panel” trope. (Apologies randyjet) It was coined by Sarah Palin when she was so fiercely opposed. And you are spot on when you say it is inflammatory. Yes, indeed, it sure was inflammatory. I used the term to highlight its origination. Unfortunately, it only caused confusion here.

  5. Poor Rosalind Franklin – it’s not right what happened to her. Stealing credit and plagiarizing work is a problem in science, which explodes with similar scandals periodically. The Nobel should recognize her contribution.

    1. Karen – by its rules the Nobel prize is only award to living people.

  6. When an Exchange policy slashes reimbursement so much that major hospitals and doctors do not accept it, that means that cancer patients cannot find the treatment that they did have access to with their previous policies. And any delay in treatment could be a lost opportunity for remission. I don’t know how it could get much more serious than that.

    I considered a Covered CA plan, but zero of my doctors accepted it.

  7. I don’t use the word Death Panels because it is inflammatory. My concern is a lowering of quality and access to care, which the AMA shares. When Medicare slashes what it pays to nursing homes by 11%, that can cause closures and lack of access for the elderly. If a nursing home gets an 11% cut, they have to make up the difference somewhere. How will they do it? Hire less qualified caregivers? Lower services? It’s a valid concern.

    1. Karen, I would have hoped you would be against the term death panels because it is dishonest, which makes it inflammatory.

  8. Darren – we must avoid the pizza balkanization of the US? That’s so funny!

    Here is one of the AMA’s opposition to IPAB, whose job is to make CUTS to Medicare. Yes, you can say their intent is not lower quality, but they are mandated to slash Medicare spending, also:

    “The AMA is dedicated to stabilizing Medicare, but the IPAB is not the solution. As physicians, we are focusing on new ways to improve care coordination that will ensure the best quality and value for patients, physicians and taxpayers. These advancements will only succeed if physicians are able to make the investments needed to participate in them, and that is not possible under the ongoing threat of looming Medicare cuts.”

    And this: “Seniors and military families who rely on Medicare and TRICARE are already dealing with instability caused by a broken physician payment formula that Congress is struggling to eliminate,” said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D. “We have made it clear to Congress that the IPAB is another arbitrary system that could make the same dangerous type of overall cuts.”

    It is my understanding that the concern about mandated end of life counseling would be that it would be accompanied with efforts to cut Medicare spending, with an obvious possibility of negative consequences. I did not follow the end of life counseling debate very much. I do think everyone should have a conversation with their doctor about how to plan advanced directive, living wills, medical POA, etc. Whether that should have a separate billing code when it is a basic aspect of health care – I honestly do not know.

    What I have followed is the concerns about IPAB. I am greatly concerned that it will cause the same savage cuts that Medicaid has experienced.

    When a young family member was terminally ill, she had a feeding tube. And yet the bureaucrat in Medicaid would only approve the pill form of one of her medications. We explained ad nauseam that, per her doctor, a dissolved pill would clog her feeding tube and require surgery, but to no avail. We all hated that there was this layer between her physician and her.

    We in the US hated when HMOs ran amuck, cutting costs via similar measures, and it’s one of the worst aspects about Medicaid. And since this is what has happened in the past when a bureaucracy is created to cut costs, I fully expect that it will happen again with IPAB. Why expect a different result? They have contradictory mandates – keep quality the same but cut spending significantly. The Medicaid rep thought that she was keeping quality – after all, she DID approve the pill form of the medicine. And what has Obamacare done to try to cut spending? Given physicians pay cuts up to 30%. Does that keep quality? No. The best doctors don’t accept this pay cut and simply opt out.

    Plus, since IPAB is appointed by the President, it has every opportunity to become politicized. They have to be approved by the Senate, but currently the President and the Senate majority share the same party. They are not answerable to anyone.

  9. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Italians understand that well.

  10. bigfatmike – If it has pepperoni on it I don’t care how it comes. 🙂 And cold, next day pizza is better than hot.


    “Under our current semi-socialized health care system (which both Democrats and Republicans created), the government violates the rights of everyone who provides, purchases, insures, or needs health care. It violates the rights of doctors by forcibly subverting their medical judgment to the whims of government bureaucrats or to the heavily regulated insurance companies; it violates the rights of citizens in general by forcing them to buy insurance with a mandated set of benefits; it violates the rights of insurers by prohibiting them from selling plans of their design to customers of their choice at prices they deem economically appropriate; it violates the rights of pharmaceutical companies by forcing them to conduct trials that, in their professional judgment, are unnecessary; and it violates the rights of suffering and dying patients who wish to take trial medications but are forbidden to by law.”

    1. Finally, a subject worth fighting over … Pizza! But only in a respectful and civilized manner.

  12. randyjet,

    you bring up a sad story of the woman who took those xrays of DNA – Rosalind Franklin. Crick and Watson (figuratively) screwed her. She should have been a part of their Nobel.

    1. Feynman, I quite agree. Of course, if the US had not forced Pauling to stay in the US and barred him from travelling, he would have wound up acing all of them. It worked out well for the Brits, if not the USA.

    2. Franklin should have gotten the Nobel – Crick and Watson stole her work and continue to take credit. Sadly, Franklin has become a footnote in science history. And these the vaunted scientists that liberals would like us to trust.

  13. Randy,
    I found “The True Believer” my first year in grad school. It had only recently been published, and was struck by this longshoreman’s understanding of psychology. He wrote it in only a couple of weeks while on strike in the late 1940s. Most social psychologists consider “The True Believer” a masterpiece, although Hoffer thought his book, “The Ordeal of Change” to be his best work. The interview with Eric Severeid took place in 1966. May I suggest there is a vast difference between reading a book with an open mind and judging a person on the basis of a single wide-ranging interview.

    In the year 2000, the Hoover Institution Archives acquired his papers, and in 2003 they were made available to scholars for research. His little notebooks occupy 75 feet of shelf space. However, only a tiny fraction of those notebooks have been transcribed and cataloged by scholars.

    Don’t get bogged down in details of what factoids he knew or didn’t know, but his broad grasp of the psychology of mass movements. BTW, he spoke both English and fluent German by the time he started to grammar school.

    On this and other blogs, many commenters have observed the striking similarities between Christian and Islamic fanatical believers, to name only two. That is exactly what Hoffer refers to. The true believer comes in all sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. Yet scratch the surface and they are all pretty much alike. The cause does not matter. Hoffer posits that mass movements are interchangeable.

    How about reading “The Ordeal of Change” and “The True Believer” and let us know what you think.

    1. OS To quote Churchill on liquor. So much to drink and so little time. I have the same feeling on books I should read. I think that Hannah Arendt would be a better person on this subject since she has far more expertise and personal experience and education on this subject.Eichman in Jerusalem would be a good one. I have read many books on the rise of fascism in Germany and how it came about. I read Trotsky on this too, and he is a far better authority on the subject since he spoke, lived and knew Germany intimately. He also knew the US quite well since he lived here and spoke fluent English better than Hoffer who was born here. He also spoke French, and Spanish along with Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, and Bulgarian. I don’t know how well he spoke SerboCroatian.

      If you can give me some indication of how Hoffer improved on or gave some better insights to the totalitarian movements, then I will try and make some time to read him.

  14. Enjoy your time Professor Turley.

    Folks, I urge caution. Now that our Professor has stated that he is suddenly in Chicago, it might constitute fighting words for some and this could errupt into another full-fledged Pizza War. We lost a lot of good men in the last one.

    We cannot afford another balkanization of America into regional pizza bastions, bent on one upmanship in vying for the title of pizza supremacy. We need to be calm, resolute, and welcome the diversity of all pizza ethnicities.

  15. My little brother was highly motivated to return to college after spending a Florida summer working as a tar tender for a roofing company.

    1. I was highly motivated to return to college after basic training. Unfortunately the Air Force would not countenance that. They did offer to send me back to learn a foreign language, but at a school of their choice and under military discipline which would take a lot of the fun out of it. They later withdrew the offer when they found they needed electronics techs like me rather than language specialists they could get from others who did not have the background in electronics like I had.

    1. Indeed, I am back in my hometown and loving every minute of it.

  16. OT:

    A bit late with this, but…

    “Why Is the US the Only Country that Celebrates ‘Loyalty Day’ on May 1?”

    Favorite comment:

    “My 2 Cents • 5 hours ago

    If we’re going to have a “Loyalty Day,” it should probably be a celebration of dogs.

    In the Patriot Act era of mass surveillance, drone strikes, militarized local police departments, the war on drugs, etc., the last thing we need is a national affirmation of the alleged virtue of mindless obedience to the U.S. government.”

  17. Links regarding end of life counseling:

    January 5, 2011 — The Obama administration has suddenly pulled the plug on a new regulation that made voluntary end-of-life counseling a reimbursable service under Medicare.

    The provision, introduced as a regulation in November to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA), had taken effect January 1.

    This is the second time that Medicare reimbursement for end-of-life counseling, also called advance care planning, has been shot down. An early version of healthcare reform legislation in 2009 called for paying physicians to engage their Medicare patients in advance care planning. However, this measure was withdrawn after critics, including former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, charged that it amounted to an attempt to save money by hastening the death of the elderly with the help of federal “death panels,” which were erroneously said to be authorized by the bill

    The withdrawal of the Medicare regulation on advance care planning does not prevent physicians and patients from talking about living wills, hospice care, or other end-of-life issues. However, physicians cannot bill Medicare for this service. Proponents of the regulation maintain that reimbursement for such involved conversations will encourage more physicians to have them with patients.

    Politifact reports

    a Pulitzer Prize winning fact checker, comparing end of life counseling to “death panels” was 2009′s “Lie of the Year.” Sarah Palin coined the term “death panels” on her Facebook page after an early draft of the Act was released.

    Politifact notes: “This falsehood, our 2009 Lie of the Year, started after an early draft of the bill sought to allow Medicare to pay for doctors’ visits in which patients discussed end-of-life care, such as living wills. The critics labeled it suicide counseling.”

    Many Republicans continue to share Palin’s concern. The Daily Beast reports that vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan said that the Act “puts a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of Medicare who are required to cut Medicare in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.”
    The Associated Press reports

    that physicians are being urged by the American Society of Clinical Oncology to have those end of life discussions with patients. “The American Society of Clinical Oncology says too often, patients aren’t told about options like comfort care or even that their chemo has become futile until the bitter end,” writes health reporter Lauran Neergaard.

    “This is not a 15-minute conversation, and it should not happen in the back of the ambulance on the way to the ICU at 3 in the morning,” says ASCO chief executive Dr. Allen Lichter. “When everyone is well and has their wits about them, it’s time to start the process,” Lichter says

    1. This is an excellent example of why it is useless to engage in talks with such true believers since fact and reality have no effect on them. I try not bother with such irrational types since it is pointless. The only reason would be to make an illustration for others who might be reading. I had an exchange about the right of state to secede with one poster. I pointed out that the Articles of Confederation declared the union to be perpetual, but this fool said that it still meant the states could secede if and when they wished! It is pointless to have any further discussion with such types.

      1. Eric Hoffer:

        It is doubtful if the oppressed ever fight for freedom. They fight for pride and power — power to oppress others. The oppressed want above all to imitate their oppressors; they want to retaliate.

Comments are closed.