The leaked audio of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling shocked the nation and quickly led to his demise.

The initial shock and outrage was probably intensified since the NBA in general and The Clippers have a significant percentage of African American players, and the Clipper's coach Doc Rivers is African America.

After a brief investigation which led to Sterling admitting that the voice on the audio was indeed his, Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA banned Sterling from the NBA for life and imposed the maximum 2.5 million dollar fine.

After a brief battle The Clippers were sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

From the beginning of the Sterling scandal it seemed like most of America believed the audio was real and that Sterling had indeed made incredibly racist remarks to his former girlfriend.

Sterling has now left his high profile position in shame.

Since I teach business owners how to get free publicity that will grow their business I have to ask one question.

What if Donald Sterling had admitted that he made the comments as soon as the audio became public? And more importantly, what if he apologized and sought to make amends?

Sadly, that type of response when a grievous mistake or moral failure rarely happens.

We Americans are skeptical. When a politician or high profile businessman is accused of something as outrageous as Donald Sterling's racist comments, we seem to consider them guilty until proven innocent.

When they deny the accusations or delay responding our assumption of guilt frequently grows even stronger.

In addition to being skeptical, Americans can also be forgiving when someone admits their failure, sincerely apologizes and seeks to change.

If Donald Sterling would have responded within minutes of the news breaking the story of the leaked audio, admitted that he made the comments and offered a humble and sincere apology would he be viewed differently? Would he be allowed to remain active in the NBA? Would, over the passing of time, he be able to regain some measure of respect?

We'll never know, but you and I have the opportunity to process this series of events and decide in advance what we will do if a huge mistake or moral failure of ours is ever uncovered.

It's easy to look at Donald Sterling's situation and know how he should have responded. It is much harder when we're under fire and the spotlight's on us.

Being honest and humble about our failures doesn't release us from potential consequences but it's the right thing to do.

The best way to respond to bad publicity is with transparency and authentic humility. That leads to a good night's sleep and to a restored reputation.

Author's Bio: 

Would you like Free Publicity? Get my free training at

Bruce is a bestselling author, speaker and trainer and founder of Perpetual Publicity, a step-by-step training system that teaches Authors, Business Owners and other Entrepreneurs how to grow their business through free publicity.

Bruce has been featured, quoted, profiled or has appeared in thousands of newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and TV shows in over twenty countries, including:The Today Show, Fox & Friends, CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun Times, I Heart Radio, and NPR.