While it is completely true that former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling‘s comments unearthed this weekend were completely idiotic, racist in tone and completely uncomfortable for anyone, the now-disgraced owner still walks out of this a winner, but for the wrong reasons.
For starters, the playoff revenue that the Clippers will earn from tonight’s Game 5 and the rest of this postseason run should the Clippers advance past the first round will go directly to Mr. Sterling and the Sterling family. Another hidden aspect of this story is that the publicity that Mr. Sterling has earned, while mostly negative, serves to give the former owner more limelight than he had before all of this, proving the notion that “any publicity is good publicity.”
From a much broader perspective, Sterling already won even before all of this because, given the evidence of past discretions, Sterling owned a professional sports franchise for far longer than he should have. For more than three decades, Sterling has been an NBA owner and it took the league this long to rid themselves of Sterling and even that is not a guarantee as 22 out of 30 owners must vote in favor of Sterling selling the team.
Much like it didn’t seem to phase Sterling that his franchise performed poorly over the past three decades, it also does not seem to bother him that he gained massive amounts of money over the past years from corporate sponsors and long-suffering Clippers fans. Despite having a .375 winning percentage during his tenure, among the worst in any prolonged stretch in professional sports history, fans still came and went in droves to support the Clippers, and most importantly, Sterling in monetary terms.
For Mr. Sterling, money is now his only friend as he clearly didn’t give care about his image and legacy with his statements; much like he didn’t mind burying an NBA franchise into absolute ineptitude for the better part of three decades.
As much as I respected commissioner Adam Silver for his tough stance on Mr. Sterling by imposing a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine, Sterling sadly doesn’t lose much from this embarrassing episode as his reputation was already ruined before this and the $2.5 million fine is mere chump change to a man with that wealthy.