April through June is the most significant and exciting time of year as an fan of professional basketball. This year has arguably been one of the most competitive playoffs in NBA history. Unfortunately, the controversy of Donald Sterling’s racist comments have taken focus from the on-court play the league needs.
The NBA has broken records this post-season. It has featured an astounding six seven-game series in the first round, a competitive second round without a single series sweep and an astounding eight overtimes. As a result, the NBA has been at its most competitive in years, where there is an unpredictability.
For example, the first round featured series where any team could have pulled off a victory. Shockingly an NBA record was set, where the road wins exceeded those of home teams. As a result, there has been no home court advantage in these playoffs.
Those stats are not the only unpredictable factor in these playoffs. In fact, of the four top teams in the NBA featuring the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat, 75 percent of those squads were on the brink of elimination to their seventh- and eighth-seeded opponents. Never has this happened before in league history.
It is not the unpredictability and competitiveness of these playoffs that has taken center stage though. Instead, always-controversial owner Donald Sterling has taken the attention front and center. Not the players. Not the coaches. A man whose racist comments has come to the forefront in a league where minorities are a majority of the players. This required newly-appointed commissioner Adam Silver to move swiftly, by banning the owner for life in any NBA capacity, while also pleading for the owners to force Sterling to sell the team.
The news does not end there. The mistress, Vivian Stiviana, who was on the controversial recordings where she “baited” Sterling’s racist comments, is rumored to have more ammunition. In fact, there could be 100 hours of audio recordings of the owner that is focused on his racist remarks. Not surprisingly, she supposedly wants compensation for said recordings to never see the light of day.
If that was not all, Sterling’s estranged wife has said how she and her lawyers will fight to keep her 50 percent stake in the team. While she has distanced herself from her husband, it is no secret that the NBA and particularly its players do not want a Sterling in the NBA, whether she is innocent or not. It has led many, from players to head coach Doc Rivers, to say that they do not want to return to the team next year if they are involved in any capacity.
Then there is the man himself Donald Sterling. He once again returned to the news media again last night where he attempted to make amends for his actions. He stated how he made a mistake and that he is not a racist. This of course is before he made disparaging, disgusting remarks about Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, essentially criticizing him for having HIV. He also called his interviewer, the respected Anderson Cooper, a bigger racist than he was.
If that was not enough, he also played the dramatic card by tearing up on camera saying he was distraught by the whole mess. He stated that it is due to these deep emotions as to why he did not apologize until last night. He also used the hardships of his granddaughters being picked on at school to make himself to be a sympathetic figure. The fact is with each passing day, the reviled owner is only hurting the NBA more and more. He has become a black eye to the league. Controversy has not affected the NBA since the Tim Donaghy scandal in 2007.
He has stated that he loves his players. He has stated that he loves his league. Yet if he truly did, he would bow out of the spotlight. Instead, Monday night he put the spotlight back on himself, instead of two brilliantly played playoff games.
Not only has he put the focus on himself, but he now wants forgiveness from everyone. No one will forgive this man. People forget that this is a man who was rumored to be a racist long before this postseason and prior to the knowledge of this recording.
In 2003 the owner was sued by 19 plaintiffs who stated the billionaire refused to allow black Los Angeles citizens rent apartments he owned. What people do not realize is that it is not just one minority Sterling dislikes. Sterling also allegedly tried to drive out Latinos from the area. On top of that, the man was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for not wanting to sell to minorities or families with children in 2006.
This is just the start of Sterling’s storied history as a racist. Previously when these investigations were going on, they were mostly kept away from the mainstream media. They were not a big deal to the league. However, many players knew about these findings; however, they continued to go to the Clippers and be paid by this man. Now that these recordings have hit the media and the world, he has been attacked for what society should have already known — that he is a racist.
Forgiveness? No one in their right mind will give it to him. Between the pain he has given the players of the race he segregates against and the league he has managed to overshadow by his complete incompetency and ignorance, he does not stand a chance.
Sterling will not get sympathy from anyone. He will not be forgiven for his actions. It is up to him and his estranged wife to end this drama. He has hurt this league at the most unfortunate time, and if he truly loves the sport of basketball and wants the league to succeed, he will do what is best. This of course is for the man to sell off the team and vanish from the spotlight forever. Then and only then, will the selfish needs of Donald Sterling and his wife vanish in order for the focus to be on the NBA Playoffs as it should.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey
Yahoo Sports – NBA can blame itself
Yahoo Sports – Sterling attacks Magic Johnson
Guardian Liberty Voice
ESPN – Donaghy under investigation
ESPN – Sterling’s racism should be news
ESPN -Sterling sued by DOJ for housing discrimination