…And here I thought that the Knicks’ owner James Dolan was the worst owner in the league.
Before I go any further, let me break down some of my feelings about racism. First, I hate that some people are stupid enough to base their opinions of others based on skin color and culture. That being said, sometimes I am prejudiced and make decisions based on skin color and race. I am not a member of the white community and therefore do not have the built in benefits that whites have in our society. That means that I do not think he “made a mistake” or that he clearly is not racist because he has a black + mexican mistress and owns a basketball team that has mostly black players.
No, he is the worst of the worst and he must go. Now.
That being said, I get it and have fallen prey like many of us to the reality: racism has been the most effective tool of choice to divide the poor and working class from coming together and demanding change. In the parlance of the times: the 1% use racism as a tool to divide the 99%.
The case with Donald Sterling has that written all over it. First, he once settled a federal lawsuit that accused him of discrimination against african-americans in housing. He has called for his teams to be lead by a southern white coaching a bunch of poor blacks – he makes no bones about it – the southern white and the black player would all work for him on his basketball plantation.
A few things are clear after reviewing Sterling’s history and the recent alleged comments, and I echo LeBron James, “There is no place in the NBA for Donald Sterling.”
From the player side this is the latest in a larger effort to make athletics a safe and more affirming workplace. From the unionization of college athletes at Northwestern to the efforts being made to create a safer environment for gay athletes, what we are now seeing is the outgrowth of the movements to gain access in sports. Now, it is not whether a person of color can be a player, coach, or owner – now it is about how those players, coaches, and owners of color are treated — the things that Jackie Robinson endured were not in vain.
Apart from just putting his foot in his mouth he has instantly made his franchise the last place that any player, coach, or executive would want to be at. The players will play out the reminder of their season for their own sake – not to win one for their owner. After that who knows?
I have no sympathy for him. He needs to go. But can he be let go?
Apparently the NBA owners are governed by a secret set of rules. In the case of Donald Sterling’s pervasive racist attitude and recent comments the question is whether these arcane rules can be used to end Sterling time as NBA owner.
I think the owners DO have a play here. They have one regardless of the results of the inquiry that is taking place to determine if it is, indeed, his voice. Why not just convene the owners and make a new rule that allows them to expel an owner under special considerations and circumstances? Michael Jordan should lead this effort.
Donald Sterling has create a strained work environment for his players and staff. It is time for him to either step down or be forced out. Meanwhile, the players need to step up what level of sacrifice they are taking. Yes, the game is important, but what is also important is the message and the impact your actions may have on society as a whole.
At the end of the day it is bad for business for Donald Sterling to be the face of the Clippers franchise. The NBA needs to listen to the players association, act swiftly, and stop enabling a racist bigot.
More from me on this topic: http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/donald-sterlings-racist-comments-reverberate-across-nba-and-beyond/