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Is the Donald Sterling controversy a case of misplaced outrage?

Sterling getting a courtside view.
Sterling getting a courtside view.
Complements of the LA Time

So the punishment has been meted out to mute the swirling tempest of what was the Donald Sterling controversy and all is well in the realm inhabited by the NBA or is it? Has justice really been served or is it a case of the symptom being treated rather than the cause?

Instead of applauding the move made by Commissioner Sliver, I’m inclined to believe that it have posed more questions that it intended to put to rest. I think that Kareem Abdul Jabbar said it best when he referred to this entire situation as “misplaced outrage” on the behalf of all parties involved.

Considering the sordid track record of Donald Sterling, which includes a 2006 housing discrimination lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice, where he was accused of refusing to rent to African-American’s at his Los Angeles residential complexes and launched missives critical of Mexican-Americans.

He later settled the suit for a mere pittance of $2.75 million, while he cavalierly avoided any admission of liability.

Then in 2009 Sterling had a bevy of accusations leveled at him by Elgin Baylor, a NBA legend in his own right and former General Manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. The lawsuit brought by Taylor charged Sterling with wrongful termination and accused him of harboring a “plantation mentality”. Ultimately, the jury ruled in favor in Sterling despite the ugly details that were brought out in the open.

This leads me to the gnawing question throbbing in the back of my skull…

I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but for the life of me I can’t understand why the powers that be in the NBA didn’t see fit to act sooner to address what Sterling was clearly showing for all the world to see.

Was Sterling punished because he embarrassed the NBA and threatened to derail the playoffs?

Why did the NBA continue to hold Sterling in good standing? Additionally, why did the NAACP see fit to award Sterling with a Humanitarian Award in 2008, a President’s award in 2009, not to mention the Humanitarian Award that he was slated to receive in 2014?

Whose interests are truly being represented by the NAACP, the NBA or society as a whole? I’m inclined to say that it reeks of financial considerations rather than a universal acknowledgement of the respect that should be accorded to our fellow human beings.

Allow me to cut to the chase for the sake of avoiding my loquaciousness…

Does money equate to power and does this perceived power bestow respect and a complementary sweep under the rug of any transgressions?

How does Sterling’s commentary differ from what is constantly spewed in the commentary sections of websites throughout the Internet? This has been a constant refrain of mine in recent years.

Sadly, the invective spewed about African-American’s by African-American’s and other members of the human family is not in short supply in 2014.

This ignorance is indicative of the reality that humanity is unable to grasp the core concept of who we are. For example, consider the commentary that went viral in 2012 after the theatrical release of the Hunger Games, the reaction that viewers had towards the death of the character of Rue was sadly revealing of the sentiment held by many Americans.

In the past month we've been regaled with the utterances of rogue rancher Clive Bundy who insisted that African-American’s would have been better off if they only learned how to pick cotton. Only to be followed by the proverbial cherry on top of Donald Sterling relegating African-American’s as some sort of exotic “other” not fit to be accorded any respect other than serving as one of the engines to his financial empire.

The tepid response of the players turning their jerseys inside out did nothing but to add to the pomp and circumstance of this entire three ring circus.

I think that a more dramatic step of all the players sitting out would have been in order, as it would have served to say that these athletes are more than modern day gladiators. Taking this type of stand would have served to say that the oneness of humanity far outweighs the power of the Almighty Dollar, but I fear that is the naïve optimist in me talking.

Is it the fact that we can attach a face to what was said that society at large found so galling?

Does the punishment bestowed on Sterling serve the intended purpose? Does it change the heart or the thought process harbored by Sterling, if the answer to that is no, then his expulsion from the NBA “for life” and the clamoring of him to divest himself of the ownership of the Clippers is a pyrrhic victory at best.

In the words of the William Shakespeare, this entire debacle is “much ado about nothing”. Especially when one considers that the outdated concept of race has no scientific basis whatsoever, it is merely a social creation and one that we should we endeavor to evolve from, sooner rather than later.

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