By WILLIAM A. BABCOCK / For anyone spending the past few days in a cave, the person in the eye of the latest media storm is Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling ignited the race card, and the media suddenly have diverted their eyes from the Ukraine, a missing airplane and a South Korean ferry. Race is America’s trump card. It’s the nation’s third rail: touch it and you die. Sterling’s racist comments recently were recorded by his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, and released by TMZ on Saturday. Three days later, NBA commissioner Adam Silver called for NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, banned him for life from any association with the league and fined him $2.5 million. Now Sterling’s remarks were inappropriate, racist, odious, vulgar and hurtful. But they were made in the privacy of his own home, and recorded without his knowledge or consent.