One League; Two Standards

The NBA moved quickly to distance itself from Donald Sterling and his racist comments. This is as it should be for very obvious reasons. While the future of his continued ownership will be decided by the NBA Board of Governors and probably the American legal system, there is no doubt that his comments have no place in society or the NBA.

The problem is that while the League acted swiftly and decisively in this matter, it seems to be turning a blind eye to the actions of one of the minority owners of the Sacramento Kings: Shaquille O’Neal. For those of you who may have missed the story in all the sound and fury of the Sterling matter and the media frenzy surrounding the reported George Clooney engagement, Shaq posted a picture on Instagram mocking a selfie placed there by a gentleman, Jahmal Binion, who has ectodermal dysplasia, a rare genetic condition which hinders the ability to grow hair and teeth.

While Shaq may not have known about Mr. Binion’s condition, he should have known better than to use his celebrity to publicly mock an individual who has less access to redress than the former star basketball player and current part owner of the League special child, Sacramento Kings. The only positives that can be said to exist in Shaq’s favor is that he did remove the picture though he has not issued an apology.

The NBA has been silent on these events also. While Shaq should not receive so nearly a severe punishment as that handed out to Donald Sterling, Commissioner Adam Silver should be out in public on this incident of bullying as much as he has been on the Sterling incident. The NBA has taken a public stand against bullying yet has not stepped forward to criticize Shaq for his posting yet nor is there any indication that it is even on the League’s radar. Also we haven’t heard word one from the Sacramento Kings organization—players or coaches or ownership—on this matter.

You would think that Kevin Johnson, either in his role as mayor of Sacramento or as the spokesman for the players’ union would have issued some sort of statement. But alas, KJ is MIA on this incident!

My question is simple: WHY? Is the NBA, its players, ownership and administration only interested in going after certain owners and not others? Why is Shaq getting a pass for this incident? Would any other owner, team official or player?


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