Tuesday may qualify as one of those defining moments in the growth of this country. 

You know, days when you get the feeling that something has clicked — that crystal clear moment when  a nation divided, is almost unanimously insulted? A moment when the good in people rises up to smack down a hideous intruder?

Every so often we’re hit with one of those moments.

NBA owner Donald Sterling, bless his wicked excuse of a heart, was caught on audio, complaining to his girl friend about her “being seen with black people,” and bringing black people to “his” games, i.e. his L.A. plantation. 

Donald Sterling didn’t like that. And a nation, once  exposed to this NBA owner, didn’t like Donald Sterling.

An argument had ensued about racism between Sterling and his trophy girl. 

It was as if Sterling kept sinking in his own quicksand, the trophy kicking him in an area where his conscience should have been. 

Racism has been around forever. That this man was an active practitioner of it should have surprised no one.

Except that Donald Sterling is the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a team made up mostly of highly talented black athletes — professionals who have been trying to win an NBA title for him.

They are professional business men who wear short pants at work and expend a kind of labor their ancestors once put forth without pay in the cotton fields of the south.

I had just finished reading a depressing report detailing a return to segregation taking place in the nation’s public schools. After all these years you couldn’t help but feel a sense of hopelessness. 

No matter how much progress we make as a nation, we can’t seem to get rid of the maggots.

 Turn over this nation’s carpet of hard-fought, hard won equal rights, and out come thousands of tiny maggots with their tiny brief cases, evil varmints trying to turn back history and recreate an antebellum attitude that once ignited a civl war.

The nation’s cameras pointed at Sterling, perched in his courtside seat. He was a sight to behold. The only props missing: a white fedora for his head and a fan for his trophy gal to keep him comfortable as he sipped lemonade and watched his millionaire black boys run and jump for him.

But then something nice cut through this filth of human behavior. A nationwide revulsion spread across the land.

Racial prejudice may be this nation’s Achilles heel, but having that mirror put in front of millions of television eyes, sent a nation of right hands flying into the air in national protest.

 “Enough! This is not who we are!”

Whether its denial, or hideous recognition of an all-too familiar underbelly in this society, Americans overwhelmingly wanted no part of this evil cockroach or his lifestyle.

Not to make too much of it, but an unrehearsed moment of American goodness tweeted forth with fury and outrage, spreading from one technological device to another as it circled quickly around the globe.

It won’t alter the maggots. But it will make them even more ostracized as a nation struggles for growth. 

They’ll always be with us, but at least we got a good, long look at this latest icon of national injustice.  

New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver threw the book at Sterling, and won the support of millions in doing so. 

Make no mistake, Sterling will lose his team. He may make millions doing it, and he’ll even think he’s won.

That’s because he doesn’t get it, doesn’t want to get it and will take his bigotry to his grave, nestled against  his chest and arms for a precious eternity.

Fortunately, it was a day that ended with a group of tall, professional businessmen — now in suits and ties and led by their coach, Doc Rivers — quietly demonstrating as grownups, what fair play and justice means in America. 

It was a beautiful moment.