Today, the right decision was made. Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was banned for life by NBA commissioner Adam Silver for making racist remarks on a taped conversation with his mistress. Sterling was also fined $2.5 million for his views on blacks and minorities in general.
While Sterling will maintain ownership of the Clippers, it forces his hand in selling the team he has owned since 1981, when he bought the franchise for $12.5 million. Today, the franchise is $575 million according to Forbes magazine.
So no matter what, Sterling will leave the NBA a wealthier man, than when he arrived 33 years ago.
But for all that, I say good riddance to one of the worst owners in the history of North American sports. I wrote about Sterling and the Clippers some time ago in my Worst Teams of All Time series. I portrayed the Clippers as a laughingstock, with Sterling being the head clown. In the grand scheme of things, it was pretty harmless.
But looking deeper into this, Sterling wasn’t a clown. He was a hateful, bigoted, loathsome human being, who represented all the wrong things about capitalism and of humanism.
In 2006, Sterling was sued by the United States Department of Justice for housing discrimination. The suit alleged that Sterling refused to rent apartments to blacks and families with children. In 2003, Sterling was sued by prospective tenants for driving out blacks and Hispanics in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles.
Bomani Jones of ESPN was the only member of the mainstream media, who warned us about Sterling’s mistreatment of minorities but we nor the NBA didn’t listen. Jones lit up Sterling again on Dan Le Batard’s show with an impassioned rant against Sterling and racism itself.
Through all this, the punishment may not be enough for Sterling. One of the best ideas I heard was on Twitter, suggesting that Sterling sell the Clippers for a mere $12.5 million, the same price he purchased the club back in 1981.
While that idea definitely has merits, may I suggest this one. Let’s take Donald Sterling for a drive. Through all the rough parts of Los Angeles. South Central. Koreatown. Inglewood. The last stop is Compton. The most notorious neighbourhood in all of Los Angeles. Let’s drop off Sterling right in the heart of Compton. He can wear his bling and he can strut down West Rosecrans Avenue. Let the streets “take care of him” so he can fend for himself. See how he likes being treated by those who he has misused and abused for so many years.
Through all this, one has to wonder where was David Stern all those years ago. For years, Stern ignored Sterling’s inexcusable behaviour, while fining Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor $3.5 million and suspended him for one year for violating the salary cap. Something every owner does in order to remain competitive in the NBA. Stern also fined Miami Heat owner Micky Arison $500,000 for tweeting about the lockout. And how many times did Stern fine Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for criticizing the officials? Too numerous to mention.
But Sterling? Never. Even though the Clippers owner admitted to trading money for sex. Nor was Sterling reprimanded for paying a $2.7 million after his discrimination suit in which he said “black tenants smell and attract vermin” and that “Hispanics smoke, drink, and just hang around the building.” Stern stayed quiet when former Clipper general manager Elgin Baylor issued a wrongful termination suit on Sterling, accusing him of establishing “a vision of a Southern plantation-type structure” and wanting a team of “poor black boys from the South that would play for a white coach.”
Did Stern do anything? Yes. He helped Stern. In an orchestrated move, Stern forced the New Orleans Hornets to trade point guard Chris Paul to the Clippers in 2011, instead to the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal to the Lakers would have helped the Hornets, but Stern voided the trade which forced New Orleans do renegotiate a deal to send Paul to the Clippers. The trade helped the Clippers as Paul teamed up with Blake Griffin to form Lob City and made the Clippers a playoff contender. This wasn’t a trade made because of brilliant management by Sterling. This was a Stern giving Sterling “a lifetime achievement award” as said by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins.
Stern’s lack of action towards Sterling makes him look like a lackey. It is shameful of Stern to completely ignore the callous remarks and actions of one of his owners, while proclaiming his league was fair and just for everyone. Stern’s lack of testicular fortitude shatters his legacy, and may overshadow the work Stern did in bringing the NBA to the masses.
Through all this, I feel bad for the players of the Clippers. They never asked for this. The team are in the midst of a heated first round playoff matchup with the Golden State Warriors when this story broke. The players did speak their piece, but not with words. Just prior to Game 4 of the series, the players took off their jackets and piled them onto midcourt, while turning their shirts inside out to protest against their owner. While the Clippers did lose 118-97, they won my respect for saying something powerful, while saying very little.
So with all that said, it is time to bid a fond farewell and good riddance to Donald Sterling. You are now held in the same court as Marge Schott, the late, disgraced owner of the Cincinnati Reds. Do the right thing. Don’t sue the NBA. Sell the Los Angeles Clippers and leave. No one wants to ever hear from you again!
You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973