Originally Published: April 29, 2014 1:26 p.m.
Banned for life.
Other such punishments in sports have been left open for speculation. Should Pete Rose have been banned or shouldn't? Were all Black Sox players really in on a scheme to throw the 1919 World Series?
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's lifetime ban, as handed down by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday, won't have the lasting interpretations of those other cases.
He simply has no business in the NBA. It's probably the most unanimous league decision since players stopped wearing short-shorts.
First Amendment? Yeah right. He freely said what he said. He's not in jail for saying it, and he's free to say it again and again and again until his heart and mouth are content. In fact, he likely will do just that. Freedom of speech is as much Donald Sterling's today as it was last week when he made his comments.
It's the consequences for exercising free speech that people with big mouths just don't seem to understand.
The world is free to react. The NBA is free to reconsider its association with Sterling based exactly on his free speech. Fans and players are free to recognize ignorant hate, and to act accordingly.
There's more than enough First Amendment freedom to go around, thank goodness. Sterling has cornered no market on free speech. He is plenty entitled to his bizarre views on the world. Great for him. Harrumpf.
No longer, however, will those opinions be unwittingly attached to the NBA, its players or its fans. He owns his own comments all to himself, which is exactly how the First Amendment works.
Argue if you like whether Silver's decision was more of a business decision or a moral one, but of course it was the right one by every measurable standard.
Did you watch the most important moment of the NBA playoffs' first round? The Miami Heat ingloriously swept the outmatched Charlotte Bobcats, but a truth was given center stage.
LeBron James is as good as Michael Jordan.
Shelve the stats and sabermetrics. It's the eye, it's the step, and it's the drive. It's the all-win all-the-time attitude, and the flashy smile. When LeBron eyeballed MJ on his breakaway dunk in Game 3, and got an inevitable hug from MJ after Game 4, he'd reached the summit of Mount 23.
The sweep in His Airness' presence added that step to LeBron's ladder that a championship trophy necessarily wouldn't. He's Michael. He's there. And it's cool, not personal.
So where is His Bronness headed with free agency? Does Phil Jackson and the Big Apple have the most pull? Back to Cleveland, to electrify a whole city? There are no losers this time around, except for the teams that won't get his locker.
Part of me is rooting for Cleveland, but a LeBron-Phil-Spike-MSG show is tough to turn down. Throw in head coach Steve Kerr for some Arizona mojo.
Speaking of the greatest NBA players of all time, one player is shockingly never on short-list discussions.
The conversation typically goes Michael-Russell-Chamberlain, or some variation thereof. Names turn then to Bird, the Big O, Magic, LeBron, Kobe.
Where in the name of Lew Alcindor is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
A 6-time NBA champion. 2-time NBA Finals MVP. 6 MVPs. 19 All-Star Games. More points than anyone else has ever scored, before or since. And revolutionizing offensive play with his skyhook - the signature of unstoppable - which ESPN's J.A. Adande called " the single most effective shot in the history of the sport."
Kareem's been #1 on my list for some time. MJ, my 2-man, has been reached by LeBron, if the Heat can close business next month.
Last basketball note: RIP to Jack Ramsay, who died Monday.
He made basketball analysis on the radio an art form. He was that rare announcer who made the game better on radio than on television, and he will be missed.