NBA must come down hard on Sterling


Donald Sterling, the longtime controversial owner of one of professional sports’ longtime losing franchises, the Los Angeles Clippers, has created a firestorm of anger and resentment from the entire sports community with his alarming racist comments to his girlfriend.

This has put Sterling on blast from the entire NBA community and many others out raged by his violent, disturbing comments. TMZ broke this story, and the audio recording is clearly Sterling talking to his friend Ms. Stiviano, who is Black.


On the nine-minute tape recording, Sterling says, “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone give it to them? Do I know that I have? Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners that created the league?”

Throughout the recording, Sterling is denigrating Blacks and the great Magic Johnson and why Ms. Stiviano, his girlfriend, should not bring them (Blacks) to Clippers games and not post photos of Johnson and other Blacks on her Insta-gram.

Larry Fitzgerald interviews Magic Johnson Photo courtesy of
Larry Fitzgerald interviews Magic Johnson
Photo courtesy of

Sterling is no stranger to controversy. In his private business life as the Clippers’ owner, he has been accused and charged with federal civil rights violations related to his empire in real estate holdings all over Los Angeles. On some of his rental properties he has been accused of engaging in discrimination by refusing to rent to Blacks.

Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, Sterling’s longtime general manager from 1986 to 2008, filed age and racial discrimination suits against Sterling. Sterling has given many thousands of dollars to the local NAACP and has been honored with a lifetime achievement award. In fact, he was in line to receive another award until this news broke on his recent comments on Blacks and Johnson.

The great Michael Jordan, current owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, said, “I have two different perspectives on his racist comments, one as an owner and the other as a former player. As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. I’m confident that Adam Silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly.

“As a former player,” Jordan continued, “I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA or anywhere else for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of our players are African Americans, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.”

Sterling has been sued for sexual harassment and housing discrimination and has been accused of harboring prostitution while recruiting women for jobs as models and hostesses. Of the lawsuits against Sterling for the many charges and accusations and I have listed, usually some are settled with payouts in return for silence.

He’s been sued by the NBA before and countersued. He moved the Clippers to Los Angeles back in 1984. He has been a big man in a great city for a long time, but controversy has surrounded him from day one.

He is who he is, and as Johnson and Michael Jordan have said, enough is enough. “He shouldn’t own a team anymore,” said Johnson. “Sterling was one of the first people I met after moving to Los Angeles. I had a friendship with him. So for him to then make these comments, or alleged comments, about myself as well as other African Americans and minorities, there’s no place in our society for it. There’s no place [for it] in our league, because we all get along. We all play with different races when you’re in sports. That’s what makes it so beautiful.”

In a league where 80 percent of the players are Black and there is just one Black owner, the league must deal with this swiftly and come down firm and hard on Sterling. This man is an embarrassment to the ownership and the profession and paints a broad brush on all the owners and executives in the league.

New Commissioner Adam Silver must take landmark action. The NBA players and fans are outraged. Sterling has a history and it’s not good. Enough has been swept under the rug already.


Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit