Odds suggest Donald Sterling’s alleged conversation, laced with racist remarks against Magic Johnson and people of color at large, hit your ears at some point by now. Those not knowledgeable of it might as well end a hopefully bigotry-free day for the sake of conversation.
Prudent basketball fans and professionals know Sterling’s supposed perspective well enough. His racism rap sheet runs off the page, most notably Elgin Baylor’s employment discrimination lawsuit. Plus his multi-million dollar settlement over practicing inequitable rental policies against minorities puts his ideals in plain view.
Those familiar with Sterling, whether through stories or through working with him in whatever capacity, know he’s racist. Yet, aside from the aforementioned cases, people acknowledged his character flaws and kept it moving. It took a leaked conversation to TMZ to finally put this man under widespread scrutiny. Thus we really ought to ask ourselves why he’s suddenly a bad person when he’s been outed as a bigot for so long.
This element of “Gotcha! Now what?” feels too convenient for a man who, according to Elgin Baylor, had a plantation mentality almost four years ago. Perhaps it’s because people got away with more before social media put everyone under a microscope. Or maybe few took his ridiculous stances and years of poor records seriously enough to prove he’s unfit to own an NBA franchise.
Whatever the case, Sterling’s made it this far and might not have to relinquish his stake in the Clippers.
The bigger picture shows a record of tolerance for intolerance here. It creates a cycle which enables figures like Sterling to move how he moved for decades. I’m not convinced a likely suspension from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is enough to make everything OK. Besides, making an example out of someone who’s had it coming placates in the short term. Then we go about our business as fans, writers and NBA employees until the next league-related scandal becomes a national news story.
Adam Silver’s press conference on the matter starts at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV tonight. The Clippers discussed a Game 4 boycott but plan to suit up to maintain their commitment to their fans. Make what you will of the team’s stance.
Do the same for Donald’s former flame since she purportedly didn’t give TMZ the bombshell out of the goodness of her heart. According to a statement made by the team to TMZ, the lady in question is currently in a hefty legal battle against Sterling’s family for stealing over $1.8 million. What a shocker.
We’ll keep it locked for press conference. Anyone upset about the tape’s entitled to the feeling if it’s genuine. I know I’m anything but pleased and never cared for the guy. Nevertheless, action shouldn’t stop at chastising Sterling and calling for his head. We really need to take the NBA, Sterling’s business partners and ourselves to task for allowing him to freely discriminate against people who aren’t white until now.
Update 4/26/14 – 9:30 p.m. ET: ESPN provided a clip of Adam Silver’s press conference over Donald Sterling’s alleged remarks. The commissioner said he’s “not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling.” Silver also said Sterling won’t attend The Clippers’ Game 4 matchup against Golden State this Sunday at Oracle Arena.