This op-ed completely misses the point when it comes to business ethics, and the right of other business owners to have nothing to do with a colleague who has shown poor ethics and poor judgment:
I am not sure whether Donald Sterling has a cause of action against anyone for breach of privacy for release of his taped conversations expressing racist views (he has the money to pay lawyers to explore that). I am not sure whether a man who walks in racist parades wearing a white sheet over his face has a cause of action against another man who walks up to him and lifts the sheet from his face for all to see who he is (the Klan can pay lawyers to explore that).
But the rest of us have a right to protect ourselves, our reputations and our businesses from either man.
The exposed Klansman can sue who he likes for lifting the sheet from his face, but he is likely to be fired if he turns out to be president of the local bank or any other business that depends upon public support. If he owns his own business, other sensible business owners will disassociate from him. These business owners are not rewarding anybody when they take such action; they are protecting themselves.
All of this privacy talk may be of personal interest to the National Review On-Line and perhaps a few of its readers, but none of this comes close to being a reason for the NBA not to get Mr. Sterling out of basketball as fast as possible. The NBA does not “reward” anyone’s bad behavior, as the National Review On-line op-ed suggests it does, by protecting itself and its member teams from Mr. Sterling. Owners, players and fans of NBA teams have every reason to do the only sensible thing which is to have nothing to do with Mr. Sterling. Personal ethics matter for any business including basketball, and racist views, no matter how “personal” and “private” are both morally reprehensible and bad for business. Free enterprise – a concept that the National Review should understand – means the freedom to have nothing to do with someone whose actions and views could destroy one of the most successful enterprises in modern America.
Sterling and the few Americans who want to defend him are entitled to their opinions. But the rest of the NBA owners, managers and players are free to do the only sensible thing to preserve their reputation and their game: play ball without him.