The specter of racism has long haunted professional sports. Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA team the L.A. Clippers, is proving how wrong those are who deny racism exists anymore.
Having held his race attitudes during his 30 years of ownership — well known to owners, media, players, fans, and sponsors — is Sterling a Rosa Parks “tipping point” for the collective “social conscience” of America, ashamed at the “yassah boss” polite role of “to get money you go along with money,” even plantation money, at the community’s expense?
The worst-kept secret is again exposed of how White owner racism has long caused hair chafing at the majority of players being Black, letting Sterling do their ranting. That’s the true infamy.
The “oh my gawd, if we could have only known” wailing taking place is the OMG of false pretenses. They knew. The difference? A woman scorned holding her smoking gun evidence fully recorded (albeit reported illegally). Sterling’s trifecta of scorn, disrespect and racism and the NBA’s tolerance of it is no longer hidden.
This incident exposes, tarnishes, and shreds retired NBA Commissioner David Stern’s image and reputation, as he allowed Sterling’s conduct, philosophy and racism in the NBA. Is his protégé, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver, moving swiftly to save Stern’s reputation and his own job and sweep it all under the rug as soon as possible?
With Silver’s election, White owners again turned their backs on the valid idea whose time has come — a Black commissioner — as they instead denied yet another generation a position well earned and for which they are well qualified.
Donald Sterling’s name and the L.A. NAACP will forever be joined in memory in infamy. The L.A. NAACP has long defended Donald Sterling, being his apologist (money trumping principles). Only the smoking gun caused the NAACP to stop the charade with Sterling and cancel his about-to-be-awarded second NAACP lifetime achievement award, exposing how money to “community leaders” denies real community people, enabling sports plantations.
When legendary Elgin Baylor sued Donald Sterling in 2009 for ageism and racism, it was the NAACP of Los Angeles that came to Sterling’s defense, calling Sterling one of the “greatest men” of our time, despite Baylor’s statement that Sterling had a “vision of a Southern plantation-type structure” for the team.
When we hear talk of “meat rolls,” we have a clear indication of what happens when folks compromise principles and accept Judas dollars. The blind now see. Advertisers are halting sponsorships for Sterling’s team (e.g., Kia, Red Bull, State Farm, Virgin America, CarMax). Players bravely stepped off the plantation by demonstrating at center court and not wearing ID warm-ups prior to the game.
Economic sanctions trump riots or one-off protests, so follow these don’ts: Don’t buy Clipper tickets, don’t attend Clipper games, don’t watch Clippers on TV, don’t buy products and services from their sponsors. Even the other 29 owners (all White except for Michael Jordan), have spoken against Sterling. They support his ouster, a change from their three-decade silence about his racism.
Former NBA player Kevin Johnson, now mayor of Sacramento, working with the NBA Players’ Association, made five recommendations: That the Commissioner (1) act swiftly and decisively; (2) outline the range of possible sanctions; (3) not allow Sterling to attend any more NBA playoff games this year; and, my two favorites for the future, (4) include the players’ association as “full partners” in the investigation, and (5) explain why the NBA did not sanction Sterling after prior evidence of racism going back over 30 years.
Update: On April 29, 2014, Silver banned Sterling for life and asked the other owners to vote for him to sell.
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