NY Times writer William C. Rhoden brought to mind two musicians Curtis Mayfield and Gil Scott Heron. I interviewed both 40 years ago--- their black conscious lyrics mirrored Clippers owner Donald Sterling's’ racial rantings about blacks and what effect his comments have on his players: Curtis said “If you had a choice of colors which would you choose,my brothers. If there was no day or night, which would you prefer to be right?” Gil Scott Heron said in Winter In America “I see the Robins perched on barren tree tops, watching last ditched racist march across the floor.” Clipper players truly face a quandary---how to react to Sterling whose marching represents all racists in this country who have and have not spoken out yet....the players face what President Obama has faced since his election:Arizona Governor waving her finger in his face as he stepped down from Air Force One; the Utah Congressman who sent the President a post card of the White House with a lawn made up of Watermelons; the Rodeo cowboy dressed as a cowboy wearing an Obama mask with a monkey tail; and the Texas C&W singer who said at a campaign rally that Obama should be shot and actor Jon Voight who has consistently racist remarks about the President.
Let’s look back at Sterling’s track record of Racism...Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor then Clippers General Manager filed a lawsuit against Sterling due to his hiring a new coach paying him twice more than Baylor who had been GM for several years. Kareem Abdul Jabbar stopped short of saying Sterling displayed plantation attitudes when he was an advisor to the team. And former Clipper player Baron Davis attested to Sterling’s racism while playing for him.
Sterling had to pay $3Million to the U.S. Housing Dept. settling a housing discrimination suit in which he denied Koreans, Mexicans and Blacks from renting in his apartment complexes in L.A.’s Koreatown area. In court, Sterling told U.S. attorneys that Blacks smelled bad. It’s funny he would say this when Blacks living in the area constitute less than 1% and Koreans constitute 70% and Mexicans 29%. Yes Sterling has a track record of racism and former Commisioner David Stern knew and did nothing because the Clippers were a losing team and Sterling didn't care because he was making millions in real-estate and making millions of dollars with the Clippers in a losing cause:The Clippers would always sell out when Michael and the Bulls came to L.A.; sell out when Patrick Ewing and the Nicks came to town; when Olaguwan, Admiral David Robinson and the Spurs came; and when Sir Charles Barkley and the 76’ers came to play. So in a Clippers losing era Sterling made money and he also got first round draft picks...Obrien kept a well kept secret abut how Sterling ran the Clippers Plantation...Look at what he (Stern) did denying Laker owner Dr. Buss the trade of Chris Paul from New Orleans when he controlled the team. Sterling had Stern in his pocket. Remember who Stern worked for the owners. Stern kept Sterling’s Plantation Operation under the rug...Even when Baylor sued Sterling had the L.A. Times to play the story down...no settlement was ever written about.
As powerful as he is (Sterling), Chris Paul, NBA President of the Players Association sought out the expertise of former Phoenix player and now Sacramento CA Mayor/NBA Player Advisor Kevin Johnson for leverage on how to handle this situation by conferring with new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on what’s happening inside the Clipper organization and what consequence should be delt to Sterling.
Donald Sterling racial ranting to a girlfriend (Stiviana) who clearly was out to get him probably being wired like the FBI does to get their man or it was planned and the tapes were in place when he and the girlfriend got together...She purportedly told him he was going to get back at him in retaliation for his estranged wife’s suit against her embezzlement...Interesting in that the girlfriend was not employed with the Clippers but a cheerleader. So if Sterling did not want her to bring Blacks to Clipper games including never bringing Magic Johnson, and owning a team full of black players (and 80% of NBA ballers are Black), and unlike record company owners who once denied recording Jazz, R&B, and Rap music, that is until they found out recording them would rally put them into the “Black”.
Sterling choose the wrong business to go into---he should have chosen owning a Hockey team...And lest we not forget the Redskin owners who got rid of the Superbowl MVP Doug Williams before the next training camp; the Steeler owner got rid of Joe Street Gilliam for Terry Bradshaw and Al Davis cutting Superbowl MVP Clarence Davis. The NFL never proposed that these owners sell and don’t expect Silver to compel Sterling to sell.
Clipper players have to play extremely hard now to beat the Warriors if they are to advance in the playoffs. They have impetus now that Sterling is banned for life from attending NBA Clipper games and forced to sell the Clippers. And hats off to NBA Player Association President Chris Paul for confiding in Mayor Kevin Johnson who had the astuteness as a former player to convey to Commissioner Silver that Sterling’s Winter in America racism is not about a Choice of Color but about color---and that Color is Black.....and his racist past history performance as an NBA owner has been tremendously less than Sterling.