Sterling, Racist; NBA Enables Him

Much has been said about Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, in the past few days so now seems like the perfect time to pile on….

Although Sterling is a racist (a character trait which is NOT illegal under the First Amendment in America), according to taped phone conversations leaked by TMZ on the weekend, the NBA needs to take a deep look within its own culture because they are partly complicit in creating the conditions whereby people such as the Clippers owner can exist, and prosper.

Most normal people have never heard anyone, anywhere in the world, make the type of comments Sterling “allegedly made late last week in a taped conversation with his paramour (OK, his comments were on a tape that hasn’t been verified yet… but still).  Furthermore, most people don’t know anyone, anywhere, who thinks the way he apparently does.

Sterling will need to take responsibility for his comments one way or the other, and how, as well as how long he twists in the wind  does not concern me.  My concerns are for the rush to judgment… not about the Clippers owner, but for the judgement made about our country, and how Sterling’s comments, by some accounts, have “set us back” decades.

I completely disagree.

The fact that everyone who heard Sterling’s comments is outraged is a sign that America has moved forward, and continues to do so.  On the contrary, those who would purposely get themselves down in the mud and claim Sterling’s comments are evidence of continued and unchecked racism are as willfully ignorant as the Clippers owner was indignant after learning his thoughts were recorded.

Donald Sterling has a disease that is not indicative of his demographic (80-year old white, men, who happen to be Jewish) but of a culture that surrounds him. While most of his demographic is probably embarrassed by the Clippers’ owner’s comments, it is the NBA that has enabled him to continue unchallenged in his position.

Major sports franchises cost a lot of money; $300m to well over a billion dollars, to define the “ballpark”, somewhat.   As a result, there aren’t too many people who can reach into their pockets and pony up the cash to buy a basketball team.

Furthermore, competition is controlled and anti-trust regulations are not enforced unless there’s a compelling reason for Congress to get involved.  For a Los Angeles Clippers team acquired in 1981 for $12.5m, that is now reportedly worth over $500m, it could be argued that franchise ownership is a ticket to runaway wealth.

Yet it is the relative oligarchic structure of the NBA, where only a few can afford to participate, that creates the conditions that caused the mentality allegedly heard during Donald Sterling’s conversation with a woman who is not his wife.

What is that mentality?

It is hard to believe that Sterling weeds his own garden, washes his own car, cooks his own dinner, or does anything more than yells into an intercom when he needs something.  It’s doubtful he waits in line while dropping his shirts at the dry cleaners.   It’s unimaginable that he would stop off at the local convenience store on his way home for a six-pack, and a Pick 6.

With so much wealth within immediate reach, he is apparently used to buying solutions to his troubles, whether it is women, or out of court settlements.  His “people” take care of his daily essentials, and in that regard, it is not unusual to think he might look down on his staff.

But it’s wrong.

Sterling’s disease stems from the fact that he hasn’t lived in the real America; at least for a very long time, and therefore he is incapable of understanding it.

The good news, however, if there is a sterling silver lining, is that the rest of America has changed, is now different, and repudiates his views with genuine comments such as, “can you believe anyone even thinks that way?

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Thanks for reading! “Testiclees” is a freelance writer, based in Seattle, who lives out his real-life under the fictitious name of Scott Gentry. Readers can view his blog at, interact with him @testeeawards on Twitter, email at [email protected] or “like” on Facebook. Give us a follow while you’re at it – @LastWordOnSport, and “Like” our Facebook page!

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