Water is wet, the sky is blue, and Donald Sterling is a racist.
This is no isolated incident. In both 2005 and 2009, Sterling paid out of his own pocket for lawsuits or penalties surrounding discrimination, the latter of which was a $2.73 million settlement with the Justice Department, a record at the time.
But this must be the most public and outrageous of all the incidents surrounding Sterling, and the reaction has been condemning, to say the least. Johnson tweeted that he “will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.” TNT’s Inside The NBA crew of Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith came out swinging at Sterling. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan posted this telling photo on Instagram that isn’t captioned, but its meaning is clear. LeBron James said he would consider sitting out if he played for the Clippers. Warriors head coach Mark Jackson called the comments “unacceptable.” Even Snoop Dogg poured in his two cents in an expletive-filled video.
There is no doubt that Adam Silver and the NBA will come down hard on Sterling for his remarks (Sterling, unsurprisingly, claimed he isn’t a racist). But what comes to the forefront now is how the Clippers — and to a lesser extent, the Warriors — handle the current first round matchup in the playoffs.
Although some feel they should, the Clippers aren’t going to boycott the games.
“We’re playing. We’re playing Golden State, and Golden State is our enemy right now,” said Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers. “We heard about all of the boycotts and all of the other stuff. That’s all stuff we could do. We choose to play.”
Assuming that Rivers sticks to his statement and the Clippers do take the floor Sunday afternoon for Game 4, the series has potential to take a turn.
For starters, the Clippers are distracted. This is not a conjecture, but a truth. There is no way that they aren’t feeling upset and confused right now after hearing those comments from their owner. In fact, they held a team-meeting this morning to discuss the matter. Instead of focusing on the Warriors and basketball, the Clippers are, unfortunately, concerned about something that should have never been worried about if not for their bigot owner.
What’s more, as already mentioned, the NBA has to and will come down on hard on Sterling. Silver will be making a statement later this evening, and the NBA world will be watching what the commissioner has to say. But beyond that, the last thing Silver wants is to see the Clippers go all the way, win the title, and have to hand the trophy off to Sterling. Do not be surprised if the Warriors suddenly become the beneficiaries of calls from the referees and come back to win this series.
However, this is beyond basketball. This is a larger issue: a social issue. Sterling is a man who has attained a high-level of wealth and success in society — enough to buy a professional basketball franchise and run it for over 30 years — yet still hasn’t learned the basic morals of the world we live in today. How anyone can say those things about minorities is incomprehensible, and the fact it was the owner of an NBA team makes it a lot worse. It is a damn shame that people such as Sterling still exist in society today, and it’s even more unfortunate that instead of breaking down a fantastic playoff series between two California rivals, we’re talking about a racist who has absolutely no place in sports or society.