The NBA may have reacted too confidently and too quickly in the wake of the Sterling witch-hunt, biting off more than it was able to chew. A more sensible approach of slowly exploring its true legal options would have been the prudent course, rather than rushing to those calling for Sterling’s head. Now, the organization finds itself in a pickle. To make matters trickier, as tempers slow down, public opinion is starting to shift in favor of Sterling, as Forbes’s Mike Ozanian reported this weekend. A Rasmussen poll last week found only 38 percent of Americans feel Sterling should be forced to sell the team – and that was before Sterling’s apologetic appearance with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Why should anyone care? Because Americans are rightly growing weary of watching others – whether it is a celebrity or an Average Joe – lose their livelihood, even their lifetime’s work, over mere remarks. For a civilization fond of the “actions speak louder than words” axiom, lately we feel justified in dragging to the stocks anyone who says the wrong thing. And employers (whether it is a network reacting to Phil Robertson’s interview, or the NBA reacting to the Donald Sterling tape) are far too quick to give in to the hysteria. The NBA certainly rushed to chastise and severely punish Donald Sterling, largely to appease the mob.
Sterling fighting back against the NBA would be a lesson to us all, and a favor to us all. Perhaps an embattled billionaire is just the man with the will and the resources to draw the line in the sand. Even for those unforgiving souls who nonetheless continue to find Sterling repugnant, remember – it may someday be you dragged before the kangaroo court of public opinion.
As Thomas More remarks in A Man for All Seasons, when pressed as to why he would defend Richard Rich: “Yes, I give the devil the benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”
Go get ’em, Donald.
— A. J. Delgado is a conservative writer and lawyer.