This week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver restored our faith in the notions of human dignity, respect, humanity and accountability.
After the utterly soul and gut-wrenching dose of racist invective unleashed by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling -- and then witnessing the classy and dignified Coach Doc Rivers skillfully steer his team through 48 hours of hurt, confusion and pain -- Adam Silver stood tall for us all.
His decision to carry out the maximum possible sentence on Donald Sterling, and his thoughtful, passionate defense of civil rights and human dignity, merits our selection of Silver for our Health Happens Here Heroes Award. His actions are a profile in courage that deserve appreciation and recognition. It is very much a "Branch Rickey moment" for the NBA. In 1947 Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke the color barrier when he recruited Jackie Robinson to play first base.
We pray and hope that Silver's courage is matched by the NBA's team owners. They have the power to vote to force a sale of the Clippers franchise to usher in new ownership -- an act that would close the chapter on this sordid, embarrassing, inhumane incident involving the Clippers present owner.
At The California Endowment, we cherish the values of dignity and respect for all and the importance of inclusiveness. Diversity strengthens our nation and great state of California. We are encouraged by the recent action of sports players, such as Jason Collins, openly declaring their sexual orientation, to the acceptance and tolerance of most of the greater sports community.
It is in this vein that I close this message with a reminder of "work left undone" by professional sports franchises in America. Each and every time the Cleveland Indians baseball team and the Washington Redskins football team take the fields in their respective sports, a Donald Sterling moment is inflicted upon our Native American brothers and sisters across this nation. We encourage Major League Baseball and National Football League executives and owners to pause and reflect on the events of this past week -- and gather a dose of courage from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
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