Local coaches, players react to Sterling's comments

Just days after tapes were leaked of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling uttering racist comments, the NBA came down hard on the longtime owner.

Commissioner Adam Silver levied a lifetime ban and fined Sterling the maximum allowable amount of $2.5 million. In addition, Silver said every effort would be made to force Sterling to sell the franchise that he purchased in 1981.

It's one of the stiffest penalties ever issued in professional sports, and several prominent Carroll basketball figures are pleased with the outcome. One of those people is Josh Boone, former star at South Carroll High School, national champion at University of Connecticut, and first-round pick of the New Jersey Nets in 2006.

"I'm extremely impressed and encouraged that Adam Silver went as far as he did with the punishment," said Boone, who is African-American, via Facebook message. "I think it was absolutely the correct decision, and I just hope that the board follows his lead and he is forced to sell the team."

Winters Mill boys basketball coach Dave Herman, who led the Falcons to a Class 2A state championship in 2008, had his take on the issue as well.

"I was just shocked that somebody in that capacity would say something like that. What makes it worse is the history of the league and how far it goes back," Herman said. "It's had such a great history with different races playing together. It's just absurd.

"It's puzzling. Unfortunately sometimes I think there is a difference between respect and what people see as a means to an end. It's like, 'If this guy is making money for me, I don't necessarily need to respect him,' and it sounds like that is his type of mentality."

Herman wasn't the only local coach to chime in. Liberty girls basketball coach Barry Green, the only African-American varsity coach in the county, didn't care for Sterling's comments but there was a specific one clip that caught his attention.

"I was watching sports on Saturday when it broke and I was like 'What the heck,'" Green said. "I guess the thing that bothered me was his comments in the recording ... 'I buy them houses, I buy them cars,' you didn't buy those cars, they went to work.

"They received their paycheck, mind you significantly larger than mine, but they supported their family and bought their own cars. They bought those things with money they earned and that was the part that bothered me the most."

Players from present and past - namely Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan - have voiced opinions from the beginning that words Sterling's have no place in the NBA. LeBron James said there was no place for that in the game, and Kobe Bryant said through Twitter that he couldn't play for a Sterling-owned team.

The remarks are equally as confusing in a league where African-Americans are the majority. According to the Clippers' roster listed on ESPN.com, 12 of the 14 players are African-Americans.

"I was very astounded. That's pretty shocking that there are still things going on in the world like that," said Tyrone Johnson, an African-American and junior on North Carroll's varsity basketball team. "You'd think people would be over that kind of stuff. Especially with him being the owner of that team and the majority of his team is African-American. For him to say something like that, it's just outrageous."

In an initial protest, the Clippers gathered at mid-court Saturday before their playoff game against Golden State and removed their shirts to reveal they were wearing their warm-up shirts inside out so no Clippers logo would show.

To show their support, the Miami Heat did the same thing before their contest against Charlotte Monday night. Although some experts and analysts called for a player boycott, Johnson said he thinks they did the right thing.

"I thought that was a great idea because it shows that everyone is the same," Johnson said. "There is no difference between anybody no matter what skin color you are. Everybody is there to do the same thing and that is play basketball."

Across social media and television, many have lauded praise on Silver for his swift decision-making in the process.

Herman agreed with the praise.

"I feel bad for the commissioner because he is following one of the best all-time [David Stern] and then three months in, he gets handed this mess," Herman said. "I think so many people through history have worked really hard of all races to try and get to where we are. This is something that went on in the country way back and it's time to move forward."

"I think the NBA is doing a good job and I think the NBA does have a good culture among its players and they recognize the past. I think saying something like that is disrespectful to all the players, past or present."

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