Gloomy clouds drag over the sky in Los Angeles, so dark and crude that not even the brightest of California sunshine can aim to solve it. Welcome to the Donald Sterling show. The infamously racist owner of the Clippers stole the spotlight this past weekend in not only the NBA, but across the world. He is living proof that now, even in the year 2014, racism is well and alive. The words he uttered through a recording that TMZ has on their website is the least bit pleasurable. Sickening and disgusting might not even be strong enough words to describe what Sterling said during the course of the near ten-minute audio. Initial reactions are strong. My first one was shock, anger, and discomfort. My eight-year-old brother watches SportsCenter and ESPN often; he heard the news. The first question he asked me about the situation is, “does this mean he even doesn’t want Chris Paul’s parents come to his games?” An innocent question, asked by a naive child; something so simple that might have not even crossed our minds while we were too raged with anger after hearing the news. This story hurts all kinds of people: men, women, blacks, whites, and any other ethnicity, religion, or even sexual orientation that you can think of. Sterling did not just hurt African-Americans; he hurt the world with his comments. Comments that Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed for, to prevent people from thinking them, or even worse, actually saying them. Sterling did just that.
Imagine being at school and your dean tells you that your parents are not allowed to come to visit you or even step foot on your campus because of your ethnicity. Imagine your manager at work does not hire someone because of the way they physically look. Sterling is that for the Clippers and there is no way in hell anyone can blame the team for the acts they condoned on Sunday afternoon in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. They took off their warm-up jackets, piled them on center-court and showed off their inside-out worn shooting shirts -- a message sent to Sterling that the team is upset. A message perhaps sent to the wife of Sterling, who was sitting across the Clippers' bench. She has done her share of separating herself from her husband, but that does not lessen the severity he has posed the world with in regards to his comments. It was a beautiful sight to see as an outsider looking at the Clippers. I was in attendance for Game 4 at Oracle and I loved what the Clippers did. Every player on the squad from DeAndre Jordan down to J.J. Redick, played with heavy hearts and unfortunately, disgruntled minds. No discredit to the Warriors though, they played a great game. You just can't be too sure the Clippers had the game as their first priority when they woke up Sunday morning. As Jeff Van Gundy said on ABC, winning a NBA Finals is obviously a great achievement, but taking a stand in the real world and providing change of this stature in the long run is far beyond any other accomplishment.
The scene outside of Oracle Arena on Sunday was expected. Fans, both black and white, stood outside the Clippers’ team bus with signs and messages to the team. Looking in defeat, most of the players looked at the fans and acknowledged them for being out there and showing the team support. Doc Rivers even paused for a second and gave the fans a thumbs up with stern face. Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson was also in attendance for the game along with NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver. Both were clear with their messages of taking some sort of disciplinary action hat will serve much-needed punishment for Sterling. The news will come out Tuesday. This is news that fans, players, other owners, and people across the world whether a basketball fan or not, are looking forward to hearing. There is no room for racism, especially in a sport as diverse as basketball.
Sterling bought the team in 1981 for $12.5 million. Far, far less than what many other owners in the league have paid for their team. The Milwaukee Bucks, who had the worst record in the league this season, were just sold for $550 million. The Clippers estimated worth is currently around $575 million. That alone shows how much money the team has made for Sterling, yet he discriminates against most of them. Snoop Dogg and Magic Johnson have been rumored to be making efforts to buy the team after the Sterling news broke, and it looks like a legitimate possibility if Commissioner Silver and the NBA take control of this disastrous story. NBA owners around the league have sown distaste in Sterling and his words. Warriors ‘ owner Joe Lacob thought the comments were not needed and the popular Michael Jordan even voiced his opinion as both an owner and former player. It is safe to say guys like Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant have all been vocal in the media or social media towards the saga. It is great to see three of the most popular players of the last twenty years step up and voice their opinions in a time when it is needed most.
The racism and discrimination possessed by Sterling has history. He has been rumored to have kicked out his African-American tenants at his apartment complexes as well as treating African-American players negatively in the past. Baron Davis recently came out saying that Sterling used to treat him poorly and mentioned how he would repeatedly call Davis a bastard. Retired legend Elgin Baylor has also had his fair share of altercations with the Clippers’ owner. Coach Rivers has shown his discomfort and says he does not know what it will take for him to come back and coach the Clippers next season if Sterling remains as owner. Chris Paul is on the verge of splitting ways with Cliff Paul as there are rumors that State Farm does not want to have the Clippers associated with them in any form of media. Other advertisers have cut their ties with the Clippers due to potential controversy to their respective businesses.
This mistake portrayed by Sterling is tasteless. He has distracted his team at the worst time possible and should be punished for his mentality in regards to race. Although he lives in America and freedom of speech is a tremendous part of being American, he has to remain professional from a business standpoint and he did the complete opposite. The team has made Sterling more money than he could have ever imagined, and some. The team is predominantly African-American. They are not his slaves for them to work for him, make him money, and then be treated with the lowest of respect. Action has to be taken. This is Commissioner Silver’s first real test as the NBA’s leader, and he has to make the right moves or the NBA’s image will be tarnished. This is not a Clippers’ problem, it is not a league problem, it is now a world problem. Young kids who have hopes of being in the NBA one day could be discouraged knowing that an owner can be conniving, backstabbing, and racially prejudice. Family members of the players on the Clippers are more than likely extremely offended. The Clippers themselves must be going through a nightmare. They aim to send a message to the owner and the league on Tuesday, during Game 5. They could not show much on the road in Oakland, but they are rumored to have something bigger planned at home. Sterling should have kept his mouth shut and lessened his arrogance. His team is for once in position to win a championship; the best spot they have been in during his tenure as owner and he might have ruined it for them and himself. His days as an NBA owner might be soon coming to an end or at least certain limitations will be placed. There is no room for racism in the NBA. Sterling crossed the line; it’s time he finally pays for it.