Monday, April 28, 2014



The only shocking thing about the racism controversy surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is why it’s taken so long for him to be thought of as controversial.  In case you haven’t heard, yesterday TMZ Sports released an audiotape reportedly of Sterling making derogatory comments about African-Americans to his girlfriend.  To say it went viral is an understatement.

Should this come as a surprise?  Sterling has been sued several times for racial discrimination.  In two separate lawsuits, Sterling has had to pay large settlements to numerous tenants for racially discriminating against them.  Even Clippers former General Manager and NBA Great, Elgin Baylor, sued Sterling for racial and age discrimination.

I doubt you could find one person who has worked for Sterling who is stunned by the latest allegation.  I can safely say this because I worked for the Clippers for two years in the mid 1990’s, first as a receptionist then as a marketing assistant.  While I never personally heard him spew racial remarks, my impression of him was he was a bizarre man wildly out of touch with reality.   

Me at L.A. Clippers Christmas Party
During my tenure with the team, Sterling threw a “White Party” to kick off each season at one of his homes.  Attendees were required to wear white from head to toe or they wouldn’t be admitted.  To me there seemed to be a hidden message in the party’s weird vibe.  Sterling always hired about twenty scantily clad women to mingle and socialize with the guests.

The league has long known Sterling was a potential grease fire, but largely ignored him.  Now it’s up to new Commissioner Adam Silver to douse the flames with a heavy-duty fire extinguisher.   Numerous high profile players, former players, and even President Obama have shared their disgust with Sterling, some calling for him to be forced to sell the team.  Silver’s reaction must be swift and heavy handed… in the neighborhood of at least a one year suspension and a minimum of a $1-million dollar fine.  An NBA press conference is scheduled for tomorrow.

Unfortunately, it may impossible for the NBA to force Sterling to sell his team.  The bylaws of the league are confidential, but presumably have their limits. Other NBA owners may be reluctant to set a precedent where a team can be taken away because of bad behavior.

It’s worth mentioning that the girlfriend, V. Stiviano, is being sued by Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly, for fraud and for sleeping with her husband.  It’s obvious Stiviano was setting Sterling up when she recorded him.  Regardless of her motives, Sterling foolishly fell right into her trap by simply being his ignorant, bigot self.

Whatever penalty Silver comes it up, it will pale in comparison to the long-term damage Sterling has cast upon his team.  His players didn’t waste time letting their displeasure be known.   Clippers point guard, Chris Paul, who also happens to be the President of the NBA Players Association, told a reporter the team considered boycotting Game Four of their playoff series with Golden State.  Instead, they piled up their warm-ups at center court and had their shirts inside out so that the Clippers logo was not visible.  Players on the bench wore black wrist and headbands similar to the protest at the Olympics in Mexico City.

If Sterling refuses to sell the team, which is likely, the Clippers will be on the fast track back down to the league’s cellar.  A place they are all too familiar with. 
It will now be impossible to attract any African-American free agents.  Current Clippers players will be looking for the first exit door they can find, whether it be free agency or demanding a trade.

As a mother of bi-racial children, it is distressing that this racist attitude still exists. If more parents raised their children like I was raised, the world would be a much better place... treating everyone with respect and only judging people based on their actions.  I can only hope our new generation will be different and the old bigots will die off sooner rather than later. 

Key words; Donald Sterling, NBA, Racism, Lawsuits, NBA Playoffs, V Stiviano, Adam Silver

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