Comparing what's happening with this Donald Sterling situation to the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s is weak. Context is important. Yes, there is systematic racism in this country. Yes, black and brown humans fill America’s prisons. Yes, the urban school system is a joke. But are we still being hosed down? Are we still only allowed to sit in the back of a bus? Can a black rapper write an essay shaming his people on a white-owned website that doesn’t support his music? Times have changed haven’t they?
I wonder if Homeboy Sandman took a check from Gawker. If so, he’s weak. The players on the Clippers aren’t weak. People judging the Clippers on what they should and shouldn’t do are weak. The team are the ones that have to deal with this, not us. So the guys that have sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears over the course of an 82-game season should just throw away the chance to win a championship over words and thoughts? Their money is guaranteed. The chance to win an NBA title isn’t. Their show of unity by throwing their warmup jerseys at centercourt, wearing T-shirts and jerseys without the Clipper name on them, and wearing all black accessories wasn’t enough? Who is one to decide the right way to respond to racism? Victimizing the victims isn’t helping anyone.
The players don’t play for the owner, they play for the team—if that makes sense. During a season, these guys spend more time with each other than they do their families. They play for each other. They are, in a sense, a family.
Who is one to decide the right way to respond to racism? Victimizing the victims isn’t helping anyone.
And let’s get one thing clear: Donald Sterling has been historically racist. This isn’t news. The players who’ve signed there and Doc Rivers are all aware of this. They knew what they were getting into. Sterling’s thoughts caught on tape are just concrete proof. And as J.A. Adande pointed out yesterday in his ESPN column, the NBA has done nothing about it because legally they can’t. He has hired black coaches and Elgin Baylor was his GM for a good amount of years. They can try to file a harmful work environment suit but this evil bastard loves going to court and has money to burn. This situation is not that simple.
He owns the team. He said what he said—no matter how vile—in a private setting. He doesn’t have to sell the team if he doesn’t want to. The league can try to force him out but it will be difficult. This is America. You’re allowed to be racist. You’re allowed to say whatever you want, right or wrong. The other owners can try to force him to sell but guess what? Donald Sterling still wins.
He bought the San Diego Clippers in 1981 for close to $13 million, if he sells them today he’ll probably get around $1 billion. He is 80 years old. His remarks caught on that tape were the nail in the coffin so to speak. Marge Schott and the Cincinnati Reds are the closest frame of reference for the NBA. The late Schott was suspended for two seasons in 1996 for racist remarks towards Jewish people and was later forced to sell the team by her limited partners. The biggest difference is that Sterling has no partners. He owns 100 percent of the franchise. So everyone is basically stuck with him until he kicks the bucket.
Also, to think that the NBA—a league that has embraced the African-American community more than any other league—isn’t taking this situation seriously is comical. This is a time for new commissioner Adam Silver to flex his muscle and do what he can within the parameters of the law. The league will be holding a press conference today at 2 p.m. and word is he's going to nuke Sterling. Stars like Kobe and LeBron made telling statements and former player, Sacramento mayor, and National Basketball Players Association search committee chairman Kevin Johnson is actively involved. Although his statements during the broadcast of Sunday’s Warriors/Clippers game were drowned out by the wild Golden State crowd, K.J. had the most sane viewpoint. He fleshed out those same points in an email to the players:
- Provide an assurance that the NBPA will be engaged as a full partner in this process. We believe that this is a defining moment for the NBA. The decisions made in this situation will send a clear message about what kind of culture, expectations and respect embody this league.
- Ensure that Mr. Sterling does not attend any of the games for the Clippers or any other team for the duration of the playoffs.
- Give us a full accounting of the prior accusations of racism made against Mr. Sterling and why there were no sanctions by the NBA.
- Explain the range of sanctions that are possible if these accusations are found true.
- Carry this process out swiftly and decisively. This situation must be addressed immediately. We are asking that the entire process be completed and consequences determined inside of 7 days to minimize the negative impact that this is having on the league.
It’s not like the NBA and the players are sweeping this under the rug like they were the NFL; even though they would like to. This needs to be handled as quickly as possible because it’s overshadowing one of the best first rounds in recent NBA playoff history. Let’s see what the league does, then react accordingly. To tell these guys they are cowards for chasing their dreams is doing more harm than good.
Sterling’s pockets are already taking a hit. Multiple sponsors and counting are already pulling money out and sources are telling Yahoo! Sports that Doc will not return if Sterling is the owner next year.
Let’s let the drama play out and show people like Donald Sterling that we are much more. And if Kevin Johnson’s outlines aren’t met, then I agree with you Homeboy, let’s burn this motherfucker down. But for now all we can do is not buy Clipper merchandise and not go to or watch any of the games. Or we can put that roster on a pedestal and root for them to win in spite.
Sterling’s pockets are already taking a hit. Multiple sponsors and counting are already pulling money out and sources are telling Yahoo! Sports that Doc will not return if Sterling is the owner next year. That’s really all that can be done in terms of taking a stand.
However, one thing is for sure, Donald Sterling is finally done. His girlfriend already dug him a grave by snaking him out and he won’t be showing his face anytime soon. He’s finished. Karma finally caught up to a known bigot. He’s felt entitled for most of his life and once he’s forced to sell his team, he’ll still be entitled. White privilege is some shit isn’t it?
Angel Diaz is a Staff Writer for Complex. He wrote this while listening to James Baldwin debates. Follow him (@ADiaz456.)