For the first time since 1981, the Los Angeles Clippers will not be associated with Donald Sterling. The now-exiled former owner of the franchise was, obviously, ousted from his position after incriminating tapes leaked revealing what everyone had known for years — the old man was a racist.
The saga played out over the course of the summer, culminating in Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion dollar purchase of the Clippers. Aside from statements here and there by head coach Doc Rivers, the pulse of the team remained, for the most part, unknown. Until now.
Superstar forward Blake Griffin penned his thoughts in a well-written piece for Derek Jeter’s new online headquarters, The Players’ Tribune. Beginning with a weird story from his rookie season at Sterling’s All-White party — that had all the red flags of something way more sinister — Blake explains what life under The Donald Regime was like.
Powerfully intriguing, however, is when Griffin discusses his opinion on whether the team should have played against Golden State after the controversial tapes were released during the 2014 postseason.
My feeling, right or wrong, was that we should shut it all out and go out and play for our fans, our families, and for each other. For people to ever think we were playing for Donald Sterling is comical. It wasn’t like before the tape came out, we were putting our hands in before every game and saying, “Okay guys, let’s go out and win one for Donald!”
Of course, he tried to spin it that way. After we beat Golden State, Sterling did the infamous interview with Anderson Cooper. Thankfully, commissioner Adam Silver had already taken quick action to ban him from the NBA for life. I was sitting in the trainer’s room getting treatment with Chris Paul during the Oklahoma City series when the interview came on the TV.
Sterling looked at Cooper with no irony whatsoever and said, “Ask the players. My players love me!”
CP and I looked at one another from across the room and just tried our best not to laugh. We were hoping after Silver’s decision that it was over, but the circus wouldn’t end. The first question I got asked at my locker the next day by a reporter was, “Blake, do you love Donald Sterling?” [TPT]
In a weird way, all sides walked away victorious. The NBA removed a long-term stain from its portfolio, despite being several years past due. Adam Silver garnered a mountain of “goodwill.” Blake, the players and the organization welcomed returning to work carefree – something he addresses in the piece – while focusing solely on chasing a championship with an owner who gives a damn about basketball. Meanwhile, Ballmer’s an NBA owner and still one of the richest men on the planet.
As for Sterling? Well, the guy has more years behind him than he does in front, but, financially, he won. In a weird way, being exposed as a bigot gave a enormous boost an already nine-figure bottom line. Involuntarily selling the team allowed him to collect a 15,900 percent return on his Clippers investment. He purchased the franchise for $12.5 million in 1981.
Perhaps Blake ended it best, however, when speaking on his former boss’ character. “Some people are so poor, all they have is their money.”