Whelp, looks like good ‘ol Donald Sterling was at it again.
In case you have been living under a rock the last 12 or so hours, the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner continued his legacy of racial insensitivity. Check out what TMZ found on an audio recording:
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to? You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”
The dude who said that one tape was allegedly Sterling – and given his past history with racial insensitivity (to be covered later), it may very well be the case. If that is true, then Sterling would – and should – be in a world of trouble.
Here’s where my cynicism comes in: if the NBA were indeed serious about sending a message to Sterling, why in the hell was he allowed to own the Clippers for 30-plus years?
Let us count the ways of Sterling’s misdeeds…
- In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children.
- The Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles.
- In 2011 Sterling was unsuccessfully sued for wrongful termination by former general manager Elgin Baylor, who claimed, among other things, that Sterling once said, “I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players,” and that Sterling would bring women into the locker room to gaze at his players’ “beautiful black bodies.”
- Sterling had the idea of celebrating Black History Month, which is in February, was inviting 1,000 underprivileged children to a Clippers game – in March.
I know that the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson weighed in, with the former planning a rally at NBA headquarters on Tuesday if no action is taken by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. I also know that players such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have weighed in, with James saying the following:
“No room for Donald Sterling in our league.”
Sterling’s players are not warm and fuzzy over him either. Chris Paul, who is also the the NBPA, issued a statement condemning Sterling but promised fans that the Clippers will keep their focus. Head coach Doc Rivers was borderline angry in an interview with reporters. In fact, the players and coaches considered the possibility of boycotting Game 4 of their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors.
I’m sure there have been many more unreported Sterling-isms that have gone on since he owned the team. That is why I think if the NBA let Sterling’s ass essentially get away with that shit for 30-plus years, why would they act now?
Let’s examine this from a short-term angle. Silver could suspend Sterling the rest of the postseason which would give Silver time to pontificate another move towards disciplining Sterling. This would appease the likes of Rev. Al and the NAACP among others.
Now for the long-term. Silver could do to Sterling what Major League Baseball had done to the late Marge Schott: take the Clippers away from him. That would be a good thing except for this. Sterling would stand to pocket AT LEAST a half a billion dollars. Sterling bought the team in 1981 for $12.5 million. Even if you translate that $12.5 mil to today’s dollars, Sterling still stands to make a HUGE profit.
So the question here is, could Sterling REALLY be punished?