Tarnished Sterling

On Saturday April 26th, the (maybe not so new) story of Donald Sterling’s apparent and flagrant racism came rapidly to the public eye. An audio recording, seemingly though as of yet unconfirmed to be long-time Las Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, was released to the ever-reputable news source TMZ.  The clip is purportedly (read: almost definitely) of Sterling angrily conversing with his girlfriend V. Stiviano over her public association with African-Americans.  Particularly, Sterling talks about an Instagram post made by Stiviano with herself and widely respected NBA legend Magic Johnson.  He goes on to explain, in no uncertain terms, that he does not want to be associated with African-Americans and that he wishes she would do the same.  Sterling tells Stiviano to do whatever she wants privately, but not to bring African-Americans to his games or make it a public connection.  It is worth noting that V. Stiviano is half African-American and half Hispanic, which leads to one of the most vile comments in the audio recording, where Sterling asserts that Stiviano is supposed to be a “delicate white girl or a delicate Latina.”

This is not the first time Donald Sterling has been accused of being a grade Aryan racist.  He was forced by the justice department to pay the largest settlement of its kind for discriminatory rental practices.  There have also been several suits filed against him from former employees citing racial prejudice.  Through his 33 years as the owner of the Clippers (the longest tenured owner currently in the league) he has never been disciplined by the NBA.  As public outrage and the indignation of figures around the league continue to increase, new NBA commission Adam Silver is facing his first crisis.  Silver made a statement saying that due process must be met, but that an investigation would be handled quickly to verify the comments.  He was vague as to what ramifications would even be available, but cited a wide range of sanctions that could be made.  It is unclear how much authority the NBA will actually have to punish Sterling – many are calling for him to be forced out of the league and banned, but whether or not this a legally viable option has yet to be determined.

Other prominent figures have not been so reserved with their comments on the matter.  Magic Johnson, the only person named in the recording, says that he will never attend another Clippers game while Sterling is the owner and that the comments are a black eye for the NBA.  Doc Rivers, the current coach of the Clippers, remarked that the comments are upsetting to the whole tem but they have to focus on getting through the playoffs.  Apparently they even briefly discussed boycotting their next playoff game in protest, but decided to play through the controversy.  In their game today, the Clippers can be seen wearing black arm bands in protest of the owner’s remarks. LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neil, and numerous other high profile current and former players of the NBA have commented on how heinous and unacceptable the comments are.  Even President Barack Obama chimed in on the matter, stating that “when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t have to do anything, you just let them talk.”

This level of close-mindedness cannot be tolerated in this day and age.  A firm stand needs to be made, and we’ll have to see how the league and commissioner Adam Silver are able to handle the now infamous Donald Sterling.

See more coverage of the story at Bleacher Report, CNN, and basically any news outlet of your choice.

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