The past week has been an eventful one for the NBA, but not because of basketball. Headlines and leading reports have been dominated by the story surrounding inflammatory, racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The incident and the subsequent events leading to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling from the NBA for life have overshadowed the most important part of the NBA season — the playoffs.
Many have speculated whether the off-court drama will affect Clippers’ performance, but the Clippers games have hardly been mentioned in the past week. “How will the players respond?” “Will the team be able to maintain focus?” These are questions being asked by sports publications, but what about the actual basketball being played?
Chris Paul and Stephen Curry are two of the best guards in the league and are facing off again after the two teams split two games apiece during the regular season. The Clippers are seeded third in the West and, after winning game five, are up in the series 3-2 and will look to close out the series in game six on May 1 at Golden State.
All season long, the West has been proclaimed the tougher conference and the playoffs have shown just how stacked the West is. San Antonio, the number-one seed, is facing a tough opponent in the Dallas Mavericks during a tightly contested series. The fact that Oklahoma City, led by Kevin Durant, who many speculate will be voted MVP, is currently trailing the Memphis Grizzlies 3-2 in the series has been overshadowed by the scandal surrounding Sterling. Former Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard James Harden is the leader of the Houston Rockets, who are trailing the electrifying talents of the Portland Trail Blazers led by second-year phenom Damian Lillard, as well as Lamarcus Aldridge.
These matchups are undoubtedly more exciting than the endless repetition of pictures showing Sterling sitting courtside and should be covered by ESPN in order to do the channel’s name some justice. Of course, this all returns to two of the main failures of journalism. First, always attempting to cover larger social issues and, second, placing the focal point on a celebrity like Sterling. These combined to make a perfect storm of sports media failure.
The first round of the NBA playoffs will continue into next week.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, May 1 print edition. Sean Billings is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com