Most people were taken by surprise that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handed down the maximum penalty that he had the power to levy unilaterally ($2.5 million fine and lifetime ban from the NBA) to Donald Sterling, and also called for the other owners to force him to sell his team. Most observers had expected something a little less than the maximum, say a limited period of suspension.
We now learn that Silver had been told that the NBA players union were united on this issue and had been willing to boycott the three playoff games on Tuesday if stern action were not been taken against Sterling. This may explain why Silver scheduled his press conference for 2:00pm that day, to preempt such an action. It also seems highly likely that the other owners will quickly move to meet the other demand that Sterling lose his team.
People forget how strong unions can be when they are united. It is true that this particular union is a special case in that it consists of highly paid athletes who likely feel that they are irreplaceable and have the resources to forego income for some time, unlike ordinary working people who live paycheck to paycheck and fear that they will be fired if they even try to form a union, let alone go on strike.
But still, it is good to be reminded that union action is what has made all our lives so much better over the last century.
I wonder how long it will take for the right-wingers to decide that Sterling must be defended since the actions taken against him were spurred by union action and such things must not be allowed to stand? It looks like the defense of Sterling has already started here and here and here.