What took them so long?
After new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling permanently would be banned from the league for his racist comments, several other disturbing aspects of the case faded into the background.
Many players, league officials and members of the sports media reacted to the decision with the demeanor of a championship team cutting down the nets.
Mr. Silver deserves credit for reacting quickly and decisively to the crisis for the league, unifying players and most owners behind Mr. Sterling's expulsion.
That, however, doesn't account for Mr. Sterling being embraced by the owners in the first place. He had been sued multiple times for allegedly racist conduct, and had settled a federal housing discrimination lawsuit for $2.7 million. Government lawyers charged that Mr. Sterling systematically had driven black and Latino tenants from apartment buildings he owned.
His contempt for others wasn't limited to tenants, however. In 1984 he moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles without the league's permission, prompting a $25 million fine that later was reduced to $6 million. Then Elgin Baylor, one of the greatest forwards in NBA history who had signed on as the Clippers' general manager, filed a discrimination lawsuit against Mr. Sterling, which he lost, charging that the franchise owner operated it under a "plantation" mentality.
So the question for NBA owners as they ponder a strategy to separate Mr. Sterling from his franchise is what took them so long.
The same question might be asked of the NAACP, which withdrew the latest of two lifetime achievement awards it had given Mr. Sterling despite his dubious track record. Is its objective rooted in principle or acquisition of rich people's money?
Meanwhile, the means by which Mr. Sterling was toppled also is nothing to celebrate. A mistress, V. Stiviano, recorded the conversation in which Mr. Sterling uttered his racist view. It's unclear how the audio was released to the entertainment news site TMZ.
In California, as almost everywhere in the United States, it is illegal to record a conversation without both parties' permission. That Mr. Sterling revealed himself as a racist doesn't diminish the alarm raised by the recording itself. It's another step on the road to diminished personal privacy in the digital age that should be investigated.