NBA consulted same domestic-violence experts with Jeff Taylor and Darren Collison

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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The NBA’s penalty in 2014 for Jeff Taylor pleading guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence: 24-game suspension.

The NBA’s penalty in 2016 for Darren Collison pleading guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence: eight-game suspension .

What was the difference?

We can start with what it wasn’t.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

According to a person with knowledge of the investigation, the domestic violence experts who were consulted in this decision were the same ones used when the NBA suspended former Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor for 24 games in Nov. 2014 (he also pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence, in addition to “malicious destruction of hotel property”). The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the investigation.

Multiple people who had knowledge of process the league went through in the Collison case separately confirmed the use of the same domestic violence consultants in both cases to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.

This makes it sound as if the suspension difference resulted from legitimate factors, but what should factor into these suspensions?

How should society accept people who’ve been found guilty of domestic violence? What role should professional sports leagues take in adjudicating domestic violence? What is a professional sport league’s goal when imposing punishment for domestic violence?

There might have been just cause to treat Collison and Taylor differently, but Taylor had the misfortune of committing his crime shortly after Ray Rice brought domestic violence into the forefront of public consciousness. By the time Collison’s case came up, interest in solving the problem had sadly dwindled. If the goal of a suspension is making a statement to fans and sponsors, the general attitudes of fans and sponsors matter.

And that’s somewhat OK. The NBA, like the NFL, is a business, not a criminal-justice system.

That’s why domestic-violence experts can stay the same while how well they’re heard can change.