In no way is it shocking and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in a recording originally released by TMZ Sports, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling asked his (now former) girlfriend V. Stiviano to not bring “black people” to Clippers games. Stiviano is mixed with Black and Latino heritage.
After drafting arguably the league’s most talented power forward in Blake Griffin and securing point-guard stud Chris Paul, Donald Sterling and his infamous history of prejudice seemed to be drowned out by the Clippers success. But as they say “you can’t keep a good man down” and in similar fashion, you can’t keep a racist silent.
If you’re familiar with Sterling’s past behavior and his degenerate history of prejudiced comments, racially motivated lawsuits and sexual harassment cases, you’re not surprised by this news. After all, he was the NBA owner who decided to celebrate Black History month in March (not February).
If you’re in tune with the current racial climate in America, you’re not shocked either.
Although he might have made strides from being the penny-pinching long tenured Clippers owner to employing the highest paid coach in the NBA and procuring one of the loftier payrolls in the league, Sterling’s attitude towards minorities have remained unscathed. On a larger scale, it shows that the National Basketball Association has a long way to go in its quest to serve as a responsible global ambassador, and reinforces a message that at the end of the day money “Trump’s” all.
On the nine-minute audio recording, Sterling pleads with his former girlfriend to keep her dealings with black people private, in response to an Instagram post where Stiviano was photographed with NBA Hall of Fame player, business mogul and Los Angeles legend Magic Johnson. Sterling added, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. But why publicize it on the Instagram and why bring it to my games?”
Magic Johnson told TMZ Sports “It’s a shame that Donald Sterling feels that way about African-Americans. He has a team full of amazing African-American basketball players that are working to bring a championship to Clippers fans.”
There will be some who will elect to berate fans of the club saying, “how can you support a team owned by such a racist and vile human being?” and that energy is misplaced. It’s not the responsibility of the victims caught in the crosshairs of such careless and vicious remarks to step out in front of an issue with no basketball impact. For that reason alone, you won’t hear much from Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or Doc Rivers – and you shouldn’t. It serves no one but the opposition for the Clippers team to boycott the hardwood and in a time where there are continuous examples of how intense and saddening America’s current racial climate is – the issue of prejudice is bigger than Donald Sterling, and is an issue that can’t be rectified by anyone but those who enable such a person.
It is the duty of the league office, players union and board of governors to call for action. Sterling’s comments are a remaining national remnant of how it’s time to relinquish America’s War on Drugs, and pick up its War on Prejudice. It’s time for other owners in the league (who don’t share Sterling’s sentiment) to stand up for the preservation of their league, and the betterment of its employees. At the heart of this issue, the standing question should be how can the NBA allow an owner with such contempt for the same community that cheers in stands, in front of televisions and radio broadcasts to remain at the helm of one of the sports most visible franchises?
As the NBA enters a new era under the watchful eye of newly appointed commissioner Adam Silver, it’s time for the league to demonstrate its dedication to equality in a hands-on manner. We’ve entered an era within our society where the degradation, imprisonment and murder of minorities have become sport. The NBA has been remarkable in its efforts to incorporate new media, and push the game into the most shadowed and unsuspecting corners of the world.
Perhaps it’s time to place greater attention on fixing these issues in its own home-court.