Anyone who believes that Clippers owner Donald Sterling is the only racist, sexist, homophobic, crooked bigot in the NBA is fooling themselves. And anyone that is surprised by the recent racist allegations against Sterling has not been paying very much attention. Sterling, like many other owners and figures in the NBA, is not a first time offender. In fact, he’s not a second time offender, nor a third. There have been countless reports of both racial and sexual issues involving the man who the great NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor once claimed had “a pervasive and ongoing racist attitude.”
Baylor, who was the General Manager of the Clippers for 22 years, claimed that Sterling embraced a “vision of a Southern Plantation type structure.” He would eventually go on to sue Sterling in 2009 for “egregious salary disparities based on race.”
Other issues include the largest housing discrimination payout of all time in which Sterling refused to rent to certain races and attempted to evict all blacks and Hispanics from his properties. “I don’t like Mexican men,” said Sterling, “because they smoke, drink and just hang around the house.” Sterling was overheard saying this in May 2002 by Raymond Henson, head of security at Sterling’s Wilshire Tower Apartments. This was according to Henson’s sworn statement. Allegedly, Sterling just wanted tenants who “fit his image.”
And from the racial issues to the sexual harassment charges stemming back decades in which multiple women accused Sterling of offering money, clothes and other favors in return for sex. The women stemmed from massage parlor workers to his own employees to women that he met in Las Vegas. All of the cases were settled confidentially.
“Working for Donald Sterling was the most demoralizing, dehumanizing experience of my life,” said one of Sterling’s many hostesses from the 1990’s. “He asked me for seminude photos and made it clear he wanted more. He is smart and clever but manipulative. When I didn’t give him what he wanted, he looked at me with distaste. His smile was so empty.”
And now his most recent incident in which he allegedly reprimanded his mistress over the phone for associating with Lakers Hall of Famer and Dodgers owner Magic Johnson. “Why are you taking pictures with minorities? Why? It’s like talking to an enemy. Hispanics feel certain things towards blacks,” Sterling said. “Blacks feel certain things toward other groups. It will always be that way. It bothers me a lot that you’re associating with black people. You’re supposed to be a delicate white or a delicate Latina girl. You don’t have to have yourself walking with black people.”
These comments, released late Saturday, have since caused an outrage around the league and country. But why does everyone all of a sudden care? Why did the Clippers roster decide to revolt now of all times? He has been the owner since 1981 and was surely a racist bigot then. So why did everything else eventually get swept under the rug and generally shielded from the public eye? He wasn’t forgiven, most people just understood the way he was and accepted it. Why? Because there was no other choice. He wasn’t going anywhere because his peers among the National Basketball Association consider Sterling’s disturbing actions to be every day business. He is not alone. Former commissioner David Stern let it be that way by continuously neglecting to acknowledge what was happening. Stern’s ignorance is very much a part of the problem at hand.
As Dave D’Alessandro wrote in his eye opening piece on Sunday afternoon, new commissioner Adam Silver “inherited a parade of laudable business partners from his morally ambiguous predecessor, David Stern.” It could not have been said any better. It took a racially charged rant towards one of the greatest players of all time that spent his entire career playing in the same city as Sterling to finally open people’s eyes and ears. What if he was just referring to another tenant, or maybe just some new poor employee trying to earn herself a paycheck? Would his actions have just been dismissed like the numerous other instances?
What exactly commissioner Adam Silver is going to do with Donald Sterling remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain, his hands are both full and tied with this one.
Magic Johnson stated that Sterling “shouldn’t own a team anymore” and that he would not be attending anymore Clippers games as long as he does. “There’s no place [for Sterling] in our league, because we all get along. We all play with different races of people when you’re in sports. That’s what makes sports so beautiful.”
Commentary by Rich Peters
Guardian Liberty Voice NBA Writer