NBA fans, you have a job to do.
A job more important than screaming at refs, more important than tattooing your team's logo over your heart, more important than the superstitious rituals you perform to jinx opposing free-throw shooters, more important than the cheers you cry and the tears you shed. Your job—one you hopefully will never be called upon to perform—is to boycott your own team if the owner does not vote to force Donald Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver laid down a historic response today to Sterling's revolting racist statements and sickening plantation mentality. He has banned the Clippers owner from all NBA events and activities for life and is fining him $2.5 million, the most allowed by the league's constitution.
Regardless of whether you believe Silver did this because he had to or because he wanted to, this is a proud moment for the NBA and a defining moment for Adam Silver. Further, as the National Basketball Players Association's search committee chairman Kevin Johnson said today, it is "one of those great moments where sports once again transcends. Where sports provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act."
Yet at this great, proud, defining moment, Sterling still owns the team (and, perhaps in his mind, the bodies laboring on the hardwood). Silver alone cannot wrest the Clippers away from him. That authority lies with the league's Board of Governors, which consists of Sterling's fellow owners. To force a sale, 75 percent of the owners must vote to do so.
"I didn't poll the owners," said Silver today. "I spoke to several owners, and I have their full support."
That's encouraging, but unless he has the full support of three-quarters of all owners, it will not be enough. Sterling will not go quietly. He enjoys courtrooms too much.
So today we can rejoice in the commissioner's decision, but tomorrow we must demand that the vote happens soon and, more importantly, that each owner's decision be made public.
So fans, speak up. First, demand a public vote, then gird yourself for what you might have to do next.
If your team's owner does not make every effort to oust Sterling, know that his or her reasons are 100 percent selfish. Do not buy into any arguments that might be made about "complex issues" or "slippery slopes." Those will be self-serving excuses that have nothing to do with the sport, the league, or anyone who has ever played or loved the game.
Go ahead and express your love for your players, your coaches and your city. Yet if your owner shames the name of the team you love by failing to rescue the Clippers and their fans from this horror, hurt him or her in the only place he or she is sure to care about: the wallet.
Don't buy a ticket. Don't buy a jersey. Don't buy a single foam finger (unless perhaps it displays the appropriate finger).
Would it hurt to know the players you love are fighting and sweating to win without the voice of a single fan to fuel them? Yes. Yet the voice they most need to hear is not the one that screams "DEFENSE" during a game; it's the one that speaks in defense of their basic human rights. The voice that says "I will not tolerate this."
Let us also transcend ignorance and head to that place for fundamental change that sports provides. This is a defining moment—not just for Silver, for sports, for basketball, for even the team's owners. This is a defining moment for you. For us. Let's not squander it.