Donald Sterling: The Racist Mogul Who Won’t Budge

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

Adam Silver punished Donald Sterling today for his completely racist and offensive comments that were recorded by his half black, half Mexican girlfriend last weekend. The comments, whose highlights, surround him saying he doesn’t want his girlfriend bringing black people to his games, have offended basically everybody who has heard them and everybody involved with basketball. Adam Silver’s punishments, include a 2.5 million dollar fine – the maximum the NBA is allowed to impose upon someone, and a lifetime ban meaning he can have literally no role within the Clippers organization besides simply retaining the title, which now is absolutely worthless, of owner. One would think that he would see the disdain he has caused and would sell the team and get out now before any of this escalates even further. However, according to FOX News, Donald Sterling said that the team is not for sale.

What that means is Sterling is not only a racist, who according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, didn’t even apologize for his comments, but he relishes the attention and loves to hear his name on the news. Hey, if I was an 81 year old man, I’d probably love to see myself on TV too. Sterling won’t sell the team because it’s his, it’s his property and or self-entitled men like him his ego is too large to give the Clippers away. He’ll probably run them into the ground and die before he ever relinquishes control over the newly successful organization. He’s essentially playing the role of a 2-yr old who won’t share his toys during playtime, except this baby is 81, racist and instead of playing with blocks, he’s playing with a real-life basketball team and even more importantly, people’s lives. He may not think that his words would affect any of his players or coaching staff, because to him they are property. They have a price tag, they work for him and they mean nothing – simply names on the back of a jersey.

However, in a normal place of work, if your boss, the man signing your checks not so secretly hated your race then you might have a problem and walk away. Frankly, in a league of 30 teams where about 80% of the players are black, and in a league that has made it a clear goal of theirs to unite people from everywhere and to break down racial barriers, making those comments in the NBA is the worst place to do it.

His ignorance is offensive, his words are hurtful and his ego is laughable. However, despite the harsh and justifiable punishment he’s received from Adam Silver and the undeniable support from the rest of the league, what may be worse is that he won’t give up.

The NBA as an organization, can force Sterling to sell the team if 3/4 of the 29 NBA owners agree to Sterling’s recommendation, meaning 22 of 29. That will certainly happen, but the trouble may begin if Sterling makes it difficult. I’m not quite sure what Sterling will do but he can surely take things to court. As an attorney, a man worth 2 billion dollars, and public enemy #1 of the NBA he would love nothing more than to take the NBA for a ride in court and to make a joke of the NBA before he is inevitably kicked out.  He’s that kind of man. If Sterling doesn’t make things difficult the NBA can take hold of the team, until a suitable, not-racist owner is found. The problem with Sterling choosing who he sells to is that there is nothing stopping him from selling to some other in-the-closet racist or even his wife in which the team would remain under the Sterling family name. What if he sold the team to Donald Trump? Someone who is against Sterling’s comments but more focused on the fact that his girlfriend is “from hell” and that she baited him and set him up.

Sterling has been in trouble for racial discrimination before so these comments as shocking as they are, are not surprising. In 2006, 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 suit charged that 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.” (Wikipedia.) In 2009, he was in trouble once again. In February 2009, Sterling was sued by former longtime Clippers executive Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination on the basis of age and race.The lawsuit alleges Sterling told Baylor that he wanted to fill his team with “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach”. The suit alleges that during negotiations for Danny Manning, Sterling said “I’m offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.”

If Sterling, worth about 2 billion dollars, doesn’t sell his team, or makes the whole process difficult, it seems like Doc Rivers will be out the door, and following him could most definitely be Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

According to Yahoo! Sports: Rivers will never return as president and coach under Sterling, sources said, and that’ll start the beginning of a player mutiny that could result with several top Clippers also demanding out of the franchise…Through the years, his racism has been sometimes subtle and often overt. For those failing to understand why a racist like Sterling never preferred white players, it cut to the heart of his stereotypical stances on athleticism and strength and talent.

Mostly, he’s never loved paying white players. In that way, he has an absolute plantation prism with which he sees players: He always preferred long, strong, physical players. To him, that’s a basketball player: Big, black and strong. When Sterling became reluctant to honor Rivers’ sign-and-trade agreement for J.J. Redick, there was a belief race played a factor. As one league source said, “He thought it was too much to pay for a white player.”

Realistically it makes no sense for Sterling not to sell the team, or take things to court if the NBA forces him to sell it. If Sterling doesn’t sell, and challenge the NBA’s decision for months, he can most definitely expect boycotts from fans and players alike come next regular season as well as many departures from his team from coaches and players. Sterling will be left with a team of nothing. Nobody will want to coach for him, and the only players he’ll be able to lure in would be D-league players willing to make way more than they deserve just to fill out a 15 man roster. If he really cared at all about his team, he would sell now before he tarnishes the Clipper name just as they’ve become legitimate and important once again. However, the disgusting aspect to this all, is that it doesn’t seem like Sterling even cares about the team. I think he just likes owning something and having control over all the people that depend on him for money. He’s always been criticized for being a frugal owner – a big part of why the Clippers only experienced their first winning season 11 seasons after he became owner.

Another disgusting side to this all, is that if Sterling sells the team he’ll make, according to Forbes, about 575 million dollars and then he’ll probably be on his way to the South of France or somewhere else with millions in his pocket and no longterm punishment at all, except for the fact that he’ll only be able to watch the Clippers on his 80 inch TV instead of court side at Staples Center. Then again, the Clippers are clearly Sterling’s baby. He’s the longest tenured owner in the NBA, and despite him knowing absolutely nothing about running a team, or displaying the effort to give the money needed to put together a real team, he has continued to hold the Clippers hostage and if Sterling sticks to who he is, he’ll probably go to court and try find a way to keep his team. Unfortunately, the situation for the NBA isn’t good. Sterling either makes just under 600 million dollars and goes yachting with other millionaires who share the same views and probably finds a new girlfriend who’d love the opportunity to live off his millions for a few weeks. Or he doesn’t sell the team and the NBA gets dragged into a series of legal issues with Sterling that will surely take away from everything that is good about the NBA.

 

 

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