Bomani Jones wrote an article in 2006 about the despicable actions of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, saying compared to the racism in his business ventures, his comments are nothing and even said he laughed at them. He continued saying we should have seen this coming, and after reading his piece it’s hard to disagree. But this instance, this outburst, it just feels different.
Over the weekend, TMZ released a recording between Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano and in this conversation Sterling was upset with his wife publicizing her interactions with minorities through Instagram. This conversation was sparked by a photo on Stiviano’s Instagram of Magic Johnson and her, which Sterling did not approve of. Sterling (who owns a team consisting of 4 African American coaches, several other minority staff members, and a team on which 12 of 14 players are African American) is a bigot and has been for a very long time.
It’s clear throughout the 15-minute tape that the 81-year-old owner is truly out of touch with modern day society, and is beginning to lose his grip. Sadly, I am not surprised by what he said. What else are we supposed to expect from the man who cheated on his wife, assists in the embezzlement of cash, and heckles his own players? Oh yeah, don’t forget how he makes his money: he owns housing projects and was sued and settled for discrimination. Add extreme racist to the list, except when it comes to extremely attractive younger women, he tolerates them. Let’s shorten that up to extremely racist hypocrite.
The players showed their feelings with a protest Sunday before their game 4 loss to the Golden State Warriors by tossing their warmups aside and turning their shooting shirts inside-out. Some called for more of a protest and some said just play the game.
Outside opinions don’t matter though; those of the employees, especially the players, do. They are coming to grips with the fact that the man who signs their checks believes he owns them- “I buy them clothes, cars, and houses.” That their only value to him is their ability to make money.
Finally, they are realizing he dislikes the fact that their family members, who sit behind the bench each game, will be the fans that are seen on TV because of their skin color, but hey if it means more money it’s tolerable. The most despicable aspect of this is that it’s been this way for 30 years. David West of the Indiana Pacers put it perfectly saying “It’s plantation politics. Make money off of the bucks, lie with the women, and no association in public good or bad.”
What the league decides to do with Sterling is yet to be determined, however the most pressing issue for our purposes is can and will the Clippers respond on the court? The Warriors would have taken game 4 regardless of this incident, so can the Clips respond at home- a place where they felt much more comfortable up until Saturday?
Doc Rivers was quoted saying “We’re going home now. Usually that means we’re going to our safe haven. And I don’t know if that’s true.” In the words of my economics professor and close friend Mr. Robert Wedge, “that is a pretty damning statement.”
LeBron James said that the trials and tribulations the Indiana Pacers are going through is nothing compared to the adversity (media scrutiny) which the Heat experienced in 2011. The Los Angeles Clippers players will be fighting through a new definition of adversity when they take the court in Donald Sterling’s Staples Center on Tuesday night. They fight with the realization that their success benefits a man who only values them for that benefit and would neglect them otherwise.
But, that’s not what this group of guys is playing for. There will be no fan protest in game five (sorry Mark Jackson- Warriors fans wouldn’t do that, they are too loyal to the team), in fact the Clippers will have the best crowd they’ve had all season. The Los Angeles Clippers will play for each other, for the fans, and for the city. Their goal is still a championship, and hopefully at the end of the season they will get to hoist a trophy Donald Sterling will never get to touch.
They say every championship team goes through adversity, and nobody expected it to come in this form, but at the end of the day this team now has an opportunity which nobody has ever had before. By fighting through this unique adversity and accomplishing the goal which they set out for on Day 1 last fall, The 2014 Los Angeles Clippers will re-define what it means to be true champions.