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The Sterling debacle

Donald Sterling
Donald Sterling

The Sterling debacle.

Yesterday, the NBA handed down it’s punishment for L.A Clipper owner Donald Sterling for comments that were made to his mistress in his home that were taped and released by TMZ. Sterling was Banned for Life from basketball was the verdict handed down by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver detailed Sterling's punishment of a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine at a press conference eight hours before Sterling's Clippers were to tip off in the fifth game of a tightly contested first-round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors. The comments that Sterling made detailed how Sterling felt about African American when talking to her mistress, V. Stiviano, after she post Instagram photos of herself with Magic Johnson. According to, Sterling can be heard berating Stivano for being in close contact with African Americans.” Don't bring black people, and don't come,” Sterling is heard stating.
V: Do you know that you have a whole team that's black that plays for you?
DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners that created the league?

After the decision by the NBA to ban Sterling one question was left unanswered. Were Sterling’s right violated? The tapes that shed the light on Sterling comments was a private conversation that took place at his home between himself and his girlfriend. Did Stiviano break any laws by recording these conversations? Should we punish someone for comments made in private where there was an expectation of privacy?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball great, stated that the comments “shows a "repugnant attitude for someone to have, and for him to be an employer for so many people of color, it kind of blows your mind.” Sports World News reports, “Plenty of evidence existed about Sterling character long before the TMZ report that his girlfriend, V. Stiviano exposed him for his alleged racist undertones. In 2006 the U.S. Dept. of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination. He allegedly said that "Black tenants smell and attract vermin."

In 2009, Sterling had to pay $2.73 million in a Justice Department lawsuit alleging he discriminated against blacks, Hispanics and families with children. That same year, Elgin Baylor sued him for employment discrimination based on age and race.

Kareem goes on in an op-ed piece for the New York Times,, and states, "Shouldn't we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media?" he asks. "Didn't we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen's privacy in such an un-American way?
Kareem goes on, “The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn't steal the cake but we're all gorging ourselves on it.”

So the punishment may fit the history of this owner’s views and actions previously but where was the punishment before? Should we lose sight that someone’s rights to privacy were trampled or in this case does the end justify the means?

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