(ThyBlackMan.com) National Basketball Association owners, like kids, say the “darndest” things. Usually, only some of those things are noteworthy, let alone newsworthy.
But when one owner is slated to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) while having a documented history of alleged racism and is then caught on tape scolding his girlfriend for associating with Black people, it’s not only newsworthy – it’s the biggest scandal to hit the NBA in decades.
On Friday celebrity news outlet TMZ released an audiotape on which
“It bothers me a lot that you want to… broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to? You can sleep with them, you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want…the little I ask, is you not to promote it and not bring them to my games.”
Sterling’s remarks came after his girlfriend, identified by TMZ as V. Stiviano, posted a picture of her and Magic Johnson to the photo sharing site Instagram.
A barrage of public criticism followed, with NBA spokesman Mike Bass characterizing Sterling’s statement as “disturbing and offensive”. On Saturday Magic Johnson tweeted out that Sterling’s comments were a “black eye for the NBA” and that he would “never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.” Rapper Lil Wayne posted to his Twitter account, “If I played for the Clippers, the last game would have been my last game. Purple Yellow.”
But this is not the first time Donald Sterling has been accused of racism. In February 2009 he was sued by former Lakers forward and Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor for wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of age and race. Baylor alleged in his complaint that Sterling had a “vision of a Southern plantation-type structure” for the Clippers organization. Baylor also alleged that while his salary had been frozen at $350,000 a year since 2003 “the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22-million contract.” Baylor abandoned his lawsuit in 2011. In November of that year, Sterling settled a federal housing discrimination lawsuit for a whopping $2.75 million, the largest of its kind, in which it was alleged, among other things, that Sterling and his wife made statements “indicating that African-Americans and Hispanics were not desirable tenants…”.
Donald Sterling hardly seems like NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award material.
The sad truth is that Donald Sterling purchased an indulgence, a pass, for his racist sins in Los Angeles by tithing the local NAACP. Fortunately, his mask of social piety and respectability was violently ripped away by the release of the TMZ tape and now all he can hope for is an escape from the glare of public condemnation without too much financial damage. But things look grim for Donald Sterling…as of this writing; several major sponsors have abandoned the Clippers. Sterling’s fortune notwithstanding, he must now, perhaps for the first time, confront the unmitigated consequences of his abhorrently racist views and statements.
Staff Writer; David Christopher Steele, A.M
This talented brother is a native New Yorker and former educator who taught in New York City public schools and at a New England boarding school. Steele is now an educational blogger and political journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/DCSteele1.