Los Angeles Clippers players made a clear statement in their game on Sunday night with a silent protest against owner, Donald Sterling. The team turned their pre-game Clippers shirts inside out and wore black socks as a protest. Is it now time for the fans to make some noise, and stage a protest of their own? While some have suggested a boycott of the game, some chatter on social media has suggested that the idea of everyone wearing black would speak much louder than words.
Twitter has started buzzing in the day leading up to Game 5 of the matchup between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, with some calling for action, suggesting that everyone rise up together in an act of solidarity against the Clippers owner.
Everyone has listened to the tapes, and everyone has heard the vile and despicable words that spewed from the mouth of Sterling, but now the real question becomes, what kind of punishment will he receive? Commissioner, Adam Sterling has a difficult decision to make on Tuesday, but what type of punishment can really be handed down to a man worth an estimated $1.9 billion? Even a $10 million fine would be a drop in the bucket and if the punishment is stripping the team from the disgraced owner, he will most likely emerge from the situation sitting pretty. He would be forced to sell the team that he purchased in 1981 for $12 million, and likely turn around and sell it in excess of $500 million. There would be no winner in this scenario, but for now, some fans ponder whether or not a “blackout” at Staples would be the most powerful message.
In an interview earlier today, head coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors said that the loudest statement fans could make would be a boycott. Perhaps he is correct in thinking that playing to a near-empty arena in Los Angeles would be extremely powerful, but he fails to see who would truly be punished. Mostly, a boycott of the game would punish people that were not involved. It punishes the players and the fans more than anyone else, and while the game goes on in front of a handful of fans, Donald Sterling would most likely be sitting at home, sipping a martini out of his gold-plated glass and shrug it off. Players and fans do not deserve this. To strip athletes who have sweated and worked so hard to get this far is simply unfair, and to strip fans of the enjoyment in which they have dedicated so much time and poured so much passion into is also unfair. The idea of wearing black in protest seemingly speaks volumes, but a boycott of the game would benefit nobody, and instead its results would mostly punish the innocent.
In the days following the release of the racist rant by owner Donald Sterling, the first round of the playoffs have taken a back seat to the controversy. It is a controversy that transcends sports and hits a strong nerve with people nationwide. It is a controversy that needs to be addressed and the NBA is going to have to figure out what they can do as a punishment. Until then, it would not be right to also punish the players and fans. An act of solidarity, dressed in black for the Game 5 matchup may be a way for the fans voices to be heard. There may also be a better alternative, or a way for the people of Los Angeles to stand up and make a statement, but for now, it is clear that people want Sterling out and nowhere near the vicinity of the Staples center on Tuesday night. If that means a blackout or a boycott, then so be it, just as long as the NBA receives a very clear message.
Commentary by Johnny Caito