Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In just under three months on the job, Adam Silver did what David Stern couldn't do in 33 years - he eliminated the plague that was Donald Sterling from the NBA.
On Tuesday, after taking slight criticism for an unimpressive opening statement about Sterling on Saturday, commissioner Silver dropped an anvil, baby grand piano and safe on Sterling's misguided head.
Sterling is banned for life. He's short $2.5 million and he's going to face a vote from his fellow owners to force him to sell the Clippers, a vote that requires a three-quarters majority. Sterling will see who his friends are when he loses that vote 29-0.
"I will urge the board of governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team and I will do everything in my power to ensure that happens," Silver said.
Tuesday marked such a critical moment for not just Silver, but the NBA. His leadership was put to an immediate test in the ugliest possible fashion.
What he did, and the manner he did it, spoke volumes about Silver. After punting Saturday's immediate reaction. Silver decisively made a decision that was best for basketball.
Silver was not stoic like Rambo, he appeared to almost be shaking. This was a huge moment and to be nervous is OK. It's human. To be shaking with rage is normal, too. This is a very individualistic issue and displayed natural repugnance is warranted.
He confidently dismissed any arguments people made about how difficult the task of eradicating Sterling might be.
What about Sterling's privacy, being unknowingly taped?
"Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they are now public and they represent his views," Silver said.
Silver didn't have a great answer about how it got to this point with Sterling. Silver wasn't the man in charge when Sterling was sued multiple times for various discrimination violations in years past, but he's in charge now and this is on his watch.
"We did not take into account his past behavior," Silver said of Sterling's lifetime ban. "When the board ultimately considers his overall fitness to be an owner in the NBA, they will take into account a lifetime of behavior."
And perhaps Silver's finest moment was his final one. Silver was asked earlier about whether he polled owners for support. He said a poll wasn't taken, but he had the backing of the owners he spoke with.
Then, when asked if Sterling might survive the vote and be some sort of absentee owner, Silver, as calmly as ordering soup in a restaurant, replied, "I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him."
Think any owner would vote against Silver after that? He might as well have dropped the microphone on the ground and said, "Adam out."
Just based on an informal Twitter poll of owners, most of whom didn't show decency enough to smack Sterling around immediately after this hideous incident happened, shows Silver has the votes.
Can Sterling take it to court? Maybe, but Silver has won the war. A no vote in forcing Sterling to sell would be a public-relations nightmare, and also, it's the wrong thing to do. Far be it from me to play the role of moral superior, but it's time for Sterling to become a sad, painful memory.
Silver played to every group on Tuesday. He'll do everything he can to get sponsors back. He wants Clippers fans to go to the Staples Center for Game 5 on Tuesday (that building might shake).
And while it may not have been the most important thing Silver accomplished in his announcement, he won over the players. A wrong move in a situation like this, although unprecedented, would shatter relationships, especially this early in Silver's tenure.
"Today, the players believe the commissioner did his duty," said Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star and special consultant to the Players Association during this matter. "We're proud to call him our commissioner."
KJ wasn't the only one. To Twitter we go.
"Commissioner Silver thank you for protecting our beautiful and powerful league!! Great leader!! #BiggerThanBasketball #StriveForGreatness." - LeBron James.
"Former and current NBA players are very happy and satisfied with Commissioner Silver's ruling." - Magic Johnson
"Commissioner Silver....STRONG...way to take charge and protect our great league." - Dwyane Wade
And finally, the Clippers released a statement: "We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins."
And Game 5 begins later Tuesday night.
Let basketball be the main event once again. Let the players shine like they have throughout this postseason and continue to bring all of us the incredible drama and entertainment the playoffs have to date.
Let the Clippers try to win the Western Conference.
Don't sweat the rest of the details. Commissioner Silver will take care of it.