Owners Mostly Silent on Sterling

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

Donald Sterling’s name is now a fixture on Twitter with more days of trending sure to come. In the days and hours since the alleged explosive audio between Sterling and his girlfriend was released by TMZ, we’ve heard from all corners of the basketball and sports world. Hell, President Obama was asked about it on his trip to Malaysia, so you know it’s escalated to a global level. The one group we haven’t heard from is Sterling’s fellow owners.

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The only one to respond was Michael Jordan, who says he was ‘outraged’ by the audio. Unless you personally share Sterling’s unappetizing views, who wouldn’t be? Heat owner Mickey Arison called the comments “offensive, appalling and very sad.” Outside of Arison and MJ, there’s been mostly silence from the rest of the owners. Zippo. Nada. Zero. Perhaps the most vocal and bombastic one of them all, Mark Cuban, has kept his mouth shut during this stinky mess, which must’ve taken every ounce of willpower to do.

There should be more owners sharing their disgust with Sterling, but their fraternity is clearly sticking together on this one. Maybe they’re petrified that some of their own foibles or inequities will be out examined and picked apart in the open. If anything, this needs to serve as a shining example of why there needs to be more minority owners not only in the NBA, but all sports leagues. Former commissioner David Stern deserves some of the blame here as well. Sterling, by all reports and or lawsuits, had a disturbing point-of-view about minorities and continued to do whatever he wanted so long as he kept lining everybody’s pockets. Stern was a forward thinker in many ways, but he whiffed on this one. He should’ve dealt with Sterling a long time ago.

Now Adam Silver must act swiftly and decisively to boot Sterling out of the league for good, although he’s not instilling a lot of confidence. Why does he need an investigation? Why not just ask Sterling straight up – Is this your voice? There isn’t a precedent for Silver to go on, but if Ron Artest was punished 86 games for going into the stands in Detroit, Sterling deserves the absolute harshest and stiffest penalty ever given.

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Will Selva’s latest post about Hispanic Athletes.

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The Aldon Smith Problem

The 49ers braintrust is spending what feels like the majority of its off-season plugging holes that are nearly causing the proverbial dam of trouble to buckle. What they’re finding out is that there’s just not enough fingers to prevent more holes from opening up.

Linebacker Aldon Smith’s recent arrest at LAX has created a full-blown fissure the likes of which will likely not be put together, unless he cleans himself up. The 49ers have absolutely had it with Smith and with good reason. How many more chances can they possibly give him? They welcomed him after his second DUI arrest and supported his stint at a rehab facility, but Smith clearly has a serious problem and needs professional help to get his life together. His reckless behavior is putting himself and others in danger.

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Who mentions the word ‘bomb’ at an airport and not think that would draw some attention? The short answer: an unstable individual, who has zero concept of the gravity behind uttering this term. There’s indications that he may have been drinking earlier in the day, which makes this downward spiral all the more sad. Now is the time for the 49ers to draw the line with him and the LAX incident is the tipping point.

As the 49ers watch the legal process play out, there’s still a May 3rd deadline looming for them to pick up the 5th year option on his contract. According to my colleague Ian Rapoport, the 49ers have no plans to cut Smith, but how many games he misses is still unknown. Look, Smith is a talented player with all the physical gifts to be a top pass rusher for years to come, so cutting him never seemed like a viable option, but he can’t continue to go down this path. Let’s hope he finally learns to deal with his personal demons, for his sake and everybody else’s.

 

The Blitz on Colin Kaepernick

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is feeling an onslaught like any other he’s faced in a game. If it was on the field, he could just tuck it, throw a couple of stiff-arms, and gallop past the first down marker. It’s an instinctual reaction that Kaepernick absolutely needs to heed when facing an equally sticky situation off the field. At the first sign of trouble, get out. We still don’t know the extent to what happened in a Miami apartment earlier this month. Kaepernick claims that things are being made up about him that never happened.

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In the coming days and weeks, we should be getting more drips and drabs of information that may or may not prove the young signal-caller’s assertion. Fact is, Kaepernick needs to understand that as an NFL quarterback, fair or unfair, he’s held to a completely different standard than everybody else. It’s just that simple. Not only that, he so happens to be part of an organization that has a deep and storied lineage of legendary quarterbacks. Some 49ers fans openly opine that Joe Montana and Steve Young would never put themselves in a situation that puts their reputations in doubt.

While that’s likely true, it might be a little unfair to Kaepernick who is touted as a millenial quarterback for this period of time in the NFL. Besides, he has his own distinct personality and by all accounts, he’s a thoughtful young man. Still, in a time of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, he needs to be that much more vigilant about what he does, who he chooses to associate with and exercise good judgement. Even if this all blows over, the stench may be lingering for awhile. It’s not like Ben Roethlisberger is getting a ton of endorsements and he’s won two Super Bowls.The other loose thread is his contract situation. This certainly won’t help. Kaepernick wants Joe Flacco money, between $18 and $20 million a year and based on what he’s done in his brief career, he’s likely in line for it. However, we nary hear a peep about Flacco’s off season activities. It should be that way. Kaepernick needs to aim for this kind of tranquility just like he aims for a first down.

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Final Days of Fernando Torres

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

The final, loose grains of salt are mercifully trickling down the hourglass that is the Fernando Torres’ era at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho metaphorically tipped the timepiece over after the Champions League quarterfinal first leg tie at PSG, when he gave a blistering rebuke on his striking options, namely Torres. The Blues boss said he wanted real strikers, but days later, Mourinho struck a more restrained, almost regretful tone saying the 30 year-old Spaniard did indeed have a future with Chelsea. He’s fooling absolutely no one. Just look back at tape of the 3-0 victory over Stoke.

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When Torres’ shot went wide, the cutaway of Mourinho showed a face almost framed with lines of contempt. He could barely contain his true feelings. Chelsea has spent the past 3 years desperately trying to make it work with Torres. Whether its the system or his teammates, he has not found the form that made him the best striker in the world when he left Liverpool and there was hardly any trust that he ever would find it. Mourinho’s scathing criticism at the Parc des Princes may very well have been an indictment on Roman Abramovich for originally writing the $82 million check made out to the name of Torres. However, the Special One is partly to blame.

He had a chance to rectify his striker quandary way back in June when he took over the club. He pushed hard to get Wayne Rooney, but Rooney decided to stay at Manchester United, thus forcing Chelsea to sign Samuel Eto’o and allowing young Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku to go out on loan to Everton. It’s a shame what happened to Torres. Maybe it was the enormity of the 82 million that felt like an albatross to him. Any move Chelsea makes this summer to unload Torres would have potentially steep financial ramifications. A nice landing spot for Torres, if it worked out, would be Atletico Madrid. The man once dubbed El Nino would undoubtedly feel at home there, a sensation he never really felt at Chelsea, where the last remaining grains of salt continue to drop slowly on his tenure.

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