Last week, TMZ released a conversation between Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano. An unknown third party recorded the conversation.
On the tape, Sterling said he was OK with Stiviano being around and talking to black men but that she should not bring any black men to basketball games or publicly associate herself with black men on social media. Sterling’s comment was in response to a photo that Stiviano had posted on Instagram with Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
The NBA quickly investigated and banned Sterling for life. Tabloids are already predicting who could buy Sterling’s share of the team. Several big names, including Floyd Mayweather, Frankie Muniz and Johnson himself, are reportedly interested.
However, we should take this moment to recognize how swiftly the country has united in ostracizing Sterling for his comments.
Now, not all the facts are out yet. We’re still hearing about Sterling’s wife, who sued Stiviano because she was fed up with the amount of time and money her estranged husband had spent on his girlfriend. I’ve heard the recording, and based on Sterling’s comments, he definitely sounds like a racist. Even if Stiviano was baiting him, as some have accused her of doing, his remarks are still unacceptable.
I wouldn’t be so quick to accuse Sterling if he didn’t already have a known record of racism that dates back decades.
I have no idea why previous NBA Commissioner David Stern did not reprimand Sterling, but I’m glad to see that Sterling finally faced consequences under current Commissioner Adam Silver. Sterling’s poor basketball decisions have made the Clippers one of the worst teams in the league, which may have hidden his views from the limelight.
I was pleased to see the public’s unanimous disdain for Sterling. J.J. Redick, a white Clippers player, told USA Today that Sterling initially didn’t want him because of a previous failure with a white player. President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Snoop Dogg and Lebron James have spoken out against Sterling, multiple sponsors have pulled out of deals with the Clippers and the Clippers’ NBA playoff opponent, the Golden State Warriors, were planning to walk out of the arena if Silver didn’t dole out enough punishment for Sterling.
Sterling is 80 years old. I understand that he grew up in a time of racial tension, when his comments might not have triggered punishment. But times have changed. As a public official and the man behind the Clippers franchise, he deserves no pity for his comments. Now, Sterling is an outcast because of his words, and he has only himself to blame.