Donald Sterling wants to make sure anyone with a digital recorder knows that he is no racist. In a recent audio, allegedly to be between Sterling and someone close to him, the booted LA Clippers owner storms against the dark clouds of proof that are following him around.
Asking the person in the recording, “You think I’m racist?”, Sterling goes on to point out that he doesn’t have anything but love for everyone. Sterling also reminds the other party in the conversation that he, Sterling, was raised in East LA. Reminding the other person that he was the high school president and “…a Jew,” Sterling goes statistical by reminding the caller that 50 percent of the students were black and 40 percent were Latin American. Sterling, who grew up in Boyle Heights, has often spoken of the working-class neighborhood that he lived in during his youth.
The other party in the conversation then asks about Blake Griffin and wonders if Sterling had spoken to Clippers management about him or anyone else of mixed race on the team. Sterling denies speaking to anyone on the basketball team and adds, “How could you think I’m a racist?”
Sterling, at age 80, expressed displeasure that Magic Johnson, who was at the eye-of-the-storm regarding the initial recording, was quick to renounce Sterling in public. Claiming that Johnson “…broke his heart,” and claiming that Johnson was a guy that Sterling respected, Sterling continues in the conversation to date someone to bring Johnson to his location at that moment so he could “…talk to him.”
The authenticity of the recently released tape could not be independently verified by NBC News. Dylan Howard, Editor-in-Chief of RadarOnline, said that the source of the tape provided a notarized statement claiming the voice was Donald Sterling.
On the digital recording, Donald Sterling cries foul at the thought that he may be required to put the team on the auction block. The Clippers, which has an estimated value of $500 million, has been researched recently by potential buyers and their agents.
Banned for life from any association with the team or the NBA, Sterling has already been hit with a $2.5 million fine, the most that could be levied under the current league governing guidelines.
The NBA has 30 owners and 75 percent of them would need to agree to the league commissioner’s recommendation that Sterling be forced to put the team on the market. Sterling bought the team franchise in 1981. Shelly Sterling, Sterling’s spouse, has vowed to wage a fight over the possible loss of the team and is determined to retain the pink slip.
In a statement Shelly Sterling gave to ESPN, she pointed out that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the sanctions against Donald Sterling, and not against her or other members of the family. When NBC News tried to contact the Sterlings in their Los Angeles home recently, Shelly Sterling only said, “We are not talking.” Many observers feel that the Sterlings may take the issue to the Supreme Court and others are just taking a wait-and-see attitude.
Commentary by Jerry Nelson