So, they say Donald Sterling made a racist statement. The same Sterling who once settled a lawsuit with the United States Justice Department for allegedly refusing to rent to Hispanics and Blacks because they “smoke, drink… smell and attract vermin.” The same Sterling who was sued by former Los Angeles Clippers exec Elgin Baylor over employment discrimination based on age and race.
So, forgive me if this sounds like nothing new from a man who was said to have wanted to fill out his team with “poor black boys and a white head coach.”
All of these things littered the past and there were no NBA repercussions, calls for boycotts, or any sort of outrage. As a matter of fact, no one seemed to really care. Players like Chris Paul still re-signed and coaches like Doc Rivers still pushed to come there — even though Sterling’s racist reputation was well documented. This makes me wonder, what caused the recent uproar?
Was it because his statements were caught on tape, or because a site like TMZ decided to broadcast it? Or was it because Magic Johnson was mentioned and the Clippers actually aren’t horrible?
Regardless of why reactions have been so strong, this situation has shown us how far we have and haven’t come in terms of race relations.
For most, Sterling’s taped conversation represented the old master mentality of “you’re good enough to entertain — or date — me, but your presence is not respected.” As expected, commissioner Adam Silver will give the Clippers’ owner his due process, but it is no secret that if these would have been derogatory words aimed at the Brooklyn Nets’ Jason Collins, the perpetrator would have been figuratively buried under the arena like Allen Iverson’s “offensive” rap CD.
The only positive is that the league’s elite (Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, etc.) are coming out and voicing their displeasure and hope for Sterling’s ousting in public — unlike many of our NBA stars of the past.
Truth be told, nothing about this controversy is a surprise to me, or maybe even you, so it’s time for the 29 other owners to put the pressure on and move the billionaire out of power, like the Cincinnati Reds‘ partners did in the 90s when Marge Schott was “allowed” to sell the team after several acts of racism and suspensions.