By now you’ve heard the news about the shocking commentary from Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. In case you’ve been under a rock, he was “alleged” to have said some very disparaging comments about African Americans to his girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano. Vanessa had recently taken an Instagram, yes Instagram picture with Magic Johnson and apparently those in Sterling’s social circle took a notice and made their displeasure known so much so that Sterling proceeded to go on a 10 minute tirade about it. His words were “why can’t you just love (blacks) in private?” after she explained to him several times that she doesn’t view the world from a racist point of view like he as she also pointed out the fact that she’s bi-racial (black and latin). Sterling goes further to try to make her understand that in his “culture” she has to be aware that being seen with blacks is bad for business. This is the point in which I found the most interesting, who is in “the culture?” But I’ll revisit that shortly.
Now as despicable and racist as his words are, I ask you are you really surprised? This guy has multiple instances of showing his opinions about minorities in conjunction to his business practices. For starters who could forget him being sued by the Department of Justice in 2006? He was quoted to say a slew of less than flattering things about black and Hispanic tenants. Let’s move to 2009; Elgin Baylor, a former NBA Los Angeles Clippers GM and retired NBA great, sued Sterling for wrongful termination and racial discrimination. A case he later lost… In his deposition an interesting other development arose about Danny Manning, a former Clipper player. After the Clippers drafted him in the 1988 Draft, Sterling invited Manning to his house to negotiate the contract and allegedly low-balled Manning so bad that he immediately refused the offer. After doing so Baylor’s deposition wenton to say Sterling said “Well that’s a lot of money for a poor black boy,” which was enough to send Danny storming out and never to return.
2010: Baron Davis is routinely heckled by Sterling at home basketball games. This isn’t the typical overt racist act, but it doesn’t bode well for his character at all. These are just a few references to his long list of things he’s done.
Now these things don’t automatically incriminate a person of being racist, but I believe firmly in the theory that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” and this latest development furthers my assertion.With all that being said Sterling is no different than the atmosphere he is a part of. The “good ole boy” network is one that permeates all over the world namely the elite in the United States… The NBA isn’t immune. So let’s probe this even further; according to the tape, Sterling seemed mighty perturbed that his friends made a big deal about Vanessa taking pictures with blacks in public. This insinuates that the “culture” that he adheres to is comprised of fellow individuals who have the same level of wealth as he think the same way. Let’s be clear, Sterling is not exactly strapped for cash in that regard. In fact, Forbes has him #977 on “The World’s Billionaires List” with a net worth around 1.9 billion dollars. Now this is important because the people who he associates with almost certainly share similar business success and affluence, so based on his commentary that’s hundreds and potentially thousands of lives affected by those that have a position of power and feel so negatively about minorities. For this reason I can’t point the finger too much at Sterling like he’s some rouge racist billionaire, fact is theres’s a network of individuals out there just like him if not worse. Lone racist or player of the “game?”
Now this is especially troubling because in the NBA, the employees (players) that make up is around 90% of the total population are minorities (with heavy concentration of blacks at 77%), and coaches of that same distinction make up around 43%. Now on first inspection this is a fairly decent dynamic, but the caveat is that this same group makes up .03% of the league (yes less than one percent) of the ownership. The one owner being Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats that’s been minority owned from inception. Granted Vivek Ranadive, an India native, of the Sacramento Kings is the face of a business ownership group that recently purchased a majority share of the franchise from the Maloof brothers in 2013. Even from the most grossly over generalizing perspective it’s pretty eye raising that a sport with the majority race grossly out numbered in the working populous dominates the framework and inter workings of the league. Makes one wonder who’s interests are being adhered to in the grand scale of things. Could the NBA be a participant of this same “game?” Now back to Sterling. Can we with a clear and logical conscious go after him alone and be satisfied with him being revoked from his duty as a owner when he clearly belongs to a network where his sentiment is at least understood? He didn’t learn this behavior of conducting business with disdain for minorities on his own. I’m willing to bet there are many others in the NBA who are no different than he that haven’t been exposed by a scorned mistress in the fashion Sterling just has been. There’s certainly precedence, former Cincinnati Reds owner, the late Marge Schott was an open racist who never saw the problem with her hurtful commentary. Lone racist, or player of the game? Anyone that knows the history of our country knows there is a problem with those in power feeling superior to the populous that makes up the majority. Slave master mentality if you will. Sterling’s commentary shows that he has bought into the notion so much so that his livelihood supercedes that of another human being’s because of a frivolous reason as ethnicity. One thing is for sure, he isn’t alone… he’s playing the game, that was established long before him and will be here far after he leaves this earth. *Update – A five minute extended version surfaced Sunday and it’s just as bad. It further affirms my assertion of the way he views minorities he employs and works along with.