Assault, DUI, etc.? There are several players who have been arrested, some convicted, of assault. That'll get you a 3 game suspension max. DUI? Maybe a game.
Don't get me wrong, racism is bad. I'm not disputing that. Sterling shouldn't have said what he said. But, in the context of the NBA, this is an overreaction of immense proportions. I've heard several media people praising Silver for acting strongly and for stepping up and being a strong leader with his punishment. I disagree completely. I think what Silver did was cowardly. He gave the angry mob what they wanted instead of acting appropriately and making an unpopular decision. It doesn't take any guts to give the mob exactly what they were asking for. Make him go through sensitivity training, suspend him for a year, fine him. That's all well and good. A lifetime ban, and forcing someone to sell their franchise for something they said in private is asinine.
Also, from the NBA's perspective, with this strong of a statement, they've almost guaranteed this thing ends up in court. It'll get dragged back into the public eye repeatedly over the next couple years. If they could have made some arrangement where Sterling was not inclined to sue the NBA, people would have been mad today, but within 2 or 3 weeks, no one would be talking about it any more (like that situation w the WR in Philly...)
All the way around, very poorly played by Silver in my opinion.