By glenn erby
By now I’m sure everyone has had the opportunity to listen to the scathing and graphic audio that is circulating around with L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist comments to girlfriend V. Stiviano regarding her taking pictures with black people.
– “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30)
– “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.” (5:15)
– “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)
– “…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.” (9:13)
One of the black people Sterling referenced, is none other than Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. Yes that Magic Johnson with a net worth of over $700 million and the same Magic Johnson that helped make the NBA what it is today.
Now the question must be asked, how and why does Donald Sterling continue to get away with such blatant racism. The how and why go hand in hand, because the NBA seems to not care about anything but the color green. Money green. That’s the only way to explain how a self admitted “bigot,” has been able to go about frugally owning an NBA franchise since 1981. Sterling the racist, has been able to turn a $12.5 million investment into a franchise worth $520 million. He’s made all of that money off the backs of the same black players he seems to hate.
Donald ‘Tokowitz’ Sterling reportedly hates blacks and Mexicans, yet has been allowed to amass a fortune owning a team in a league that promotes itself on diversity and treating people equally. Sterling has never treated regular people as equals let alone black people. This is the same Sterling who in the 80′s reportedly asked former Villanova head coach Rollie Massimino: “I wanna know why you think you can coach these niggers.” The same Donald Sterling who was sued by NBA legend Elgin Baylor for having a “plantation mentality.”
According to Baylor, who was the Clippers’ general manager for 22 years, Sterling stated that he wanted “a white Southern coach coaching poor black boys.” How is an owner in a billion dollar league allowed to play out all his racist fantasy’s in plain sight and not even get a reprimand. Whether it’s Donald Sterling referring to the great Danny Manning as “a poor black,” or Cavs owner Dan Gilbert firing off a scathing letter blasting LeBron James for being disloyal, some owners in the NBA have been made to feel like treating “their property” like crap is acceptable behavior because the “poor black kid” will make more than he could ever imagine.
Eighty-six percent of NBA players are black, but only one team owner is. That’s not a coincidence. Sterling, the horrible owner, can’t all of a sudden get a pass because he’s handed out huge deals to the black Chris Paul and the biracial Blake Griffin. If Sterling had made homophobic comments or crude remarks about women, the NBA probably would have responded first thing this morning. They did not. The NBA has sat around for 30-plus years allowing Sterling to do and say as he pleases as and owner and real estate mogul. I guess the only thing that’s important to the NBA is profit margins and as long as he continues to rake in millions for the association, Sterling is likely to get a pass.
Say what you want about the NFL, but Rush Limbaugh had his hopes of owning an NFL franchise dashed before he could even contemplate the deal. Are there racist NFL owners? Probably. But they sure as hell weren’t going to allow an openly proud bigot like Limbaugh to sit at the table with them. As I stated earlier, Sterling has been an openly racist owner for more than 30 years. This is the same Donald Sterling who was prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department for discriminating against prospective Hispanic and black tenants in real estate.
On August 8, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination in using race as a factor in filling some of his apartment buildings. The government’s ongoing case alleges Sterling refused to rent to non-Koreans in the Koreatown neighborhood and to African-Americans in Beverly Hills.
The suit alleges Sterling once said he did not like to rent to Hispanics because they “smoke, drink and just hang around the building,” and that “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.”
The NBA may not be able to do anything about Donald Sterling the landlord or real estate mogul, but you’re telling me two separate NBA commissioners felt comfortable enough with business and the bottom line to continuously overlook Sterling’s issues. Mark Cuban has been fined millions for commenting about the officiating, but Donald Sterling can say and do as he likes? Allen Iverson had a rap album shelved, because it was bad for NBA business.
I don’t want to hear anything about him being the owner of the franchise either. Major League Baseball suspended the late Marge Schott from baseball for more than a year and fined her $25,000 for her racially insensitive remarks. The NBA would be more than justified to hand down a severe penalty because Sterling is a monster and simply not good for anyone involved. It’s bigger than business.
Sterling can’t be forced to give up his team, but the NBA can show that blatant racism and disrespect simply won’t be tolerated in this day and time. We can talk all we want about Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes taking a stand and not participating in these money-making playoffs for Sterling and the NBA.
That would be an epic move that would send a shockwave through the sports world. It would also put those same Clippers players in a position to have the NBA come down hard on them. Guys have families and careers to consider. Why should I ask Chris Paul or Blake Griffin to make a stand when the league they make millions of dollars for won’t step in.
The NBA has a choice to make with the world watching.
Adam Silver can make the statement that David Stern never attempted to make with Donald Sterling. No Adam Silver can’t just take the Clippers away from Sterling. But he has the power to levy fines and sanctions that would be unprecedented on so many levels. Silver has the power to show NBA fans, players and owners that such crude and in your face behavior won’t be tolerated because your wealthy and not worried about any sanctions.