On April 25th, 2014, TMZ published a recording of Donald Sterling in a conversation with his girlfriend, known as V. Stiviano. He was disappointed in her sharing of photos with her and African-Americans Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Magic Johnson, long-time Los Angeles Lakers great and current Dodgers owner. Notable quotes included:
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?" (3:30) -- "I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people." (7:45)
For those that have been following the Clippers, and Donald’s career, these quotes should not come as a surprise. Other racial remarks have been met with less attention. In 2006, Sterling, who has amassed his empire in real estate, was met with housing discrimination charges. One of his property supervisors, Sumner Davenport quoted him as saying:
"That's because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they're not clean. ... And it's because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day."
On April 30th, after launching an internal investigation, NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life, fined him 2.5 million dollars, the largest possible sum the NBA constitution would allow, vowing to force Sterling to sell the Clippers.
There is tremendous irony about a man who doesn't want to associate with black people owning an NBA team. 10 of 14 players on his roster are African-American. The coach he hired is African-American. As are several members of his front office and executive team, the people he trusts with the operation of his 575 million dollar asset of a professional basketball team.
On May 15th, Sterling was slated to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for his philanthropic work in the Los Angeles African-American community. That award has since been revoked of course, but it is unfortunate that that someone with Sterling’s racist history and personal views would be able to appear in such good standing for so long with an organization dedicated to promoting success of minorities by cutting them a cheque.
The aftermath of the Sterling controversy as one can imagine, has produced many opinions and thoughts from all corners of the idea spectrum. Opportunistic groups twist and turn events like this to support whatever ‘cause’ they had already been fighting for. Tim Marchman of Deadspin, the popular sports news website accused Donald Sterling of being the ‘face of American Capitalism’ because he, like, many of his fellow professional sports team owners think they own their players:
Then we had the hysterical free speech advocates chime in on Twitter, via this Deadspin article:
Basketball players are not slaves and there is no plantation. They may not be paid relative to their work done, and they may not have a fair share, but unlike slaves, they can leave. They can retire, quit, and do something else with no repercussions. They have been allowed to unionize and collectively bargain, all traits not indicative of slave labour.
The Donald Sterling series of events this week is the face of capitalism. Free market leaders report to the people and have consequences for their actions. The public kept his franchise value at 575 million by buying tickets, merchandise, and watching on TV. Their behaviour about the team is likely to change as long as Sterling is leading the ship. His coach has already vowed to leave if he is still in charge. Sponsors are dropping like flies. The Donald Sterling basketball enterprise is shrinking because of his actions; actions that have consequences. The dollars and time not spent on the Clippers will reappear in the hands of other businesses.
Donald Sterling’s First Amendment rights were not violated. The NBA is a private corporation that has chosen to sanction a private member, with no government intervention. There are consequences for actions, and Sterling will be faced with those.
The American Government has been caught red-handed spying on your emails, listening to your phone calls, and sending the IRS to target political groups not aligned with their philosophies with no consequence to them. Americans don’t have a choice to not support it with their dollars, they are forced to continue to fund these programs with their tax dollars. The whistle blower for the NSA, the man who defended the constitution when the government was spying on its citizens lives in exile in Russia. The owner of a private company has said awful things about an ethnic group of people, and will face the consequences. He will lose personal wealth, friends, family, and his public platform. That is a fair and just conclusion.