Saturday, May 03, 2014

The greatest week in NBA history?

Wow.  Just wow.

You could make the claim just for the games alone, which for the most part have been spectacular.  We're definitely at a point now where we can say that this is the greatest first round of the playoffs in NBA history - Five of eight series going to seven games, and one going to six that was just as dramatic as those five.  Close games, overtime games, games with controversial calls, games with amazing performances and games with head-scratching performances - this round has had it all, and now the only worry is whether the rest of the playoffs can possibly match it.

Oh, and then there was that little thing that Adam Silver did the other day - banning Donald Sterling for life.  He may, as Jimmy Fallon pointed out last night, look like the guy from "American Gothic" come to life, but with his decision this week, Adam Silver has cemented his position in sports history, after just a few weeks on the job.  If he isn't Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, then the magazine needs to really take a long and hard look at what that award is all about.

And yes, the afterglow of Silver's decision (and the decisive nature by which it was delivered) will dim with time, as people recognize that no, this in and of itself will not end racism in the NBA, and in fact could lead to a lengthy legal battle that lasts until well after Sterling has died.  Let's face it - we don't really know yet that Silver had any legal basis for what he did, although one can assume that the NBA legal staff spent a few hundred hours combing every nook and cranny of the NBA constitution and bylaws to ensure at the very least that they weren't standing on legal quicksand.  And yes, appearing in today's Sacramento Bee was an op-ed claiming that the "thought police" have won again, that Sterling had every right to hold whatever abhorrent beliefs he saw fit and still own (and make billions from) an NBA team.  And there is the very real issue of privacy, and whether we are all at risk of having our private comments thrown into the public domain because of the ability of today's technology to do just that.

But let's set those things aside for the moment.  What Adam Silver did this week was take a moral stand - he did what had to be done; he did what was right.  25 years ago, Greil Marcus wrote that a riot in San Francisco, lawless and dangerous as it was, was the only proper response on the night after Dan White was excused of his crimes.  This week, Adam Silver may not have had the legal basis to make the decision that he did.  But it was the only proper response, and for that he should be lauded.  He should be thanked.

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