Here we are again, in the throes of media frenzy about racism, where it is fashionable to lend a voice to the cacophonous bandwagon of bullying against the latest town idiot. LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was ousted last month by girlfriend V. Stiviano after a recording of a conversation in which he ranted at length about the “culture” of America was leaked to TMZ. He didn’t like that she paraded with her black friends at his games and on social networking sights. He doesn’t mind if she spends time with black people in private, but there are certain unspoken cultural codes of conduct in this country that she should abide by. The buck doesn’t stop there, since the tapes “leaked,” V has confirmed that she has hundreds of hours of their conversations on tape- the contents of which could ruin his reputation.
Clippers team members, made up primarily of black players, staged a silent protest at an Oakland game against the Golden State Warriors. They turned their red warm-up shirts inside out to hide the team logo and wore black socks during the game. Their heads obviously preoccupied, they lost 118 to 97. Basketball elites like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elgin Baylor have spoken publicly against Sterling; all expressing deep disappointment and speculating about what this might mean for the players and the future of the team.
Many feel the silent protest wasn’t enough. The blogosphere is buzzing with some going as far as calling the team cowards. Others have drummed up Sterling’s past racial transgressions, including allegations that Sterling actively practiced housing discrimination in apartment buildings he owns in the Koreatown and Beverly Hills sections of LA. ESPN reported that the claim was settled after he agreed to pay a $2.73 million fine. Baylor, former Clippers executive, sued Sterling in February 2009 for employment discrimination alleging that Sterling made racist remark about players. Of course none of these transgressions hit the airwaves in as grand a fashion as the story involving V.
How exactly does one punish a man as old and as rich as Donald Sterling? Since the tape went public, every news outlet, sports outlet, and pop culture pundit has covered the story- each with their own ideas about what the NBA should do with Sterling. Well that responsibility lies with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who announced a lifetime ban on Sterling along with a $2.5 million fine.
So, what now? Sterling can’t show up to Clippers games. Ok. He’s still making a profit every time they play. And with every T-shirt, bumper sticker, or sippy cup that’s made- his pockets fatten. And with a net worth upwards of reported almost $2 billion, $2.5 million is mere pocket change to Sterling. He’ll make that up on the sweat and swift feet of those black boys on the court in no time. This is a tired and weak slap on the wrist. The Clippers should be completely repossessed by the NBA and put up for bid.