Shame Day: Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the NBA

Today’s Shame Day has a multitude of facets, the first and largest of being that Donald Sterling is a straight-up racist.


To begin with we have the very recent news of TMZ’s recording [since authenticated by his lawyer] of the LA Clippers’ owner talking to his half-Black half-Mexican girlfriend and telling her the following:

– “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30) 

– “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.” (5:15)

– “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)

– “…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.  And don’t bring him to my games.” (9:13)

That’s all reprehensible in and of itself, but it isn’t even the first instance of this man’s bigotry. Way back in 2006 legal action was taken against him in a housing discrimination case surrounding statements he made “indicating that African Americans and Hispanics were not desirable tenants and that they preferred Korean tenants.”  Taking it even further back to 1983 we have a prospective coach claiming Sterling told him “I wanna know why you think you can coach these n—ers.”

I could go on for a while, but that alone should more than speak for itself. Donald Sterling is a racist, and should be shamed for his actions. Having briefly touched on the team’s owner and found him to be a truly hateful individual, it’s time to turn to the players themselves.


First off, it’s a shame that Blake Griffin et al. are playing for the kind of person I mentioned above. Second of all it’s . . . no . . . that’s it, that’s my point.

I want to predicate this by saying that I can’t personally comment on the Black American experience. Because of this I will be deferring to musician Homeboy Sandman, who wrote a piece for Gawker entitled “Black People Are Cowards“.

In it he criticizes the team’s response to the media frenzy surrounding their owner, which took the form of them wearing their shirts inside out to hide the Clippers logo as they warmed up before their fourth playoff game. News outlets all over the internet are referring to this as a “silent protest”, complete with black armbands and socks. They had apparently chosen to “remain silent and not speak out on Sterling’s alleged comments before the game.”

Homeboy Sandman believes this attempt at protest borders on the pathetic, if I can read into the tone of his article a little. He states that “The most common excuse [he’s] heard for today’s cowardice is ‘they need to feed their families,’ which of course is a euphemism for ‘for the money.'” The LA Clippers played two days ago in spite of their owner’s actions, and the best they could do is give the appearance of a team-wide wardrobe malfunction.

Look, I really do get that I may not have any right to say any of this since, as I mentioned, I am an Asian-Canadian who doesn’t know what the average Black person in America goes through. Even still, I think Homeboy Sandman is right. He’s one hundred percent correct that “if every NBA player who wanted to stand up against racism vowed not to play until the Clippers’ owner resigned, it would be announced that he resigned before you were finished reading this.” More than that, imagine if at bare minimum it was 3/4 of the team.

At the very least I’m glad that the Clippers made some effort to show that they disagreed with Sterling and his views. That being said, it’s an outright shame they didn’t do more. A commenter took an excerpt from the article and presented it next to the words of a prominent human rights activist:

“If you’re not ready to die for it, but the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.” Malcolm X.

“It’s almost as if people have forgotten that struggle includes struggling.” Homeboy Sandman

If it was easy we wouldn’t have these problems, because everyone would be doing it. Speaking of other parties that are directly involved we now turn to the last subject of this post, the NBA itself.


Specifically, I want to address the press conference NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave three days ago, not taking into account the upcoming one at 2 this afternoon. In it he begins by saying that “all members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side,” which is fine. I suppose that’s reason to not pursue any sanctions immediately. The problem presents itself in the Q&A portion of the press conference.

When asked by J. A. Adande of ESPN about why no punitive action was taken against prior incidences of racism, etc., Silver responds:

“I can’t speak to the past, as to why decisions were made. And I’m not sure what incident you’re referring to. There was a settlement and, as I understand it, with no finding of discrimination, but I haven’t looked back yet at any past proceedings involving Mr. Sterling.”

It took me mere minutes to find a sizable list of the owner’s past misdeeds, and it is terrible that they appear to be swept under the rug in order to keep the focus on TMZ’s recording. The man has a history of racism yet it seems to be completely ignored. Furthermore, when asked what the NBA would do if the Clippers as a whole decided not to play he answers that “fortunately we’re not dealing with that situation.”

Opening the Raptors’ playoff series the team’s president and general manager Masai Ujiri tried pumping up the crowd by yelling “F— Brooklyn.”  Silver was initially satisfied with the public apology later given, but ultimately ended up fining him $25,000. I love the Raps [5th playoff game this Wednesday wooooo] but one hundred percent agree with this course of action. What does it say about the current NBA commissioner and his predecessors that nothing of the sort has ever happened to Sterling? Ujiri made his team, and as a result the NBA, look bad. Arguably Sterling has done all of that and then some.

In that same vein, why has his lifetime achievement humanitarian award from the NAACP withdrawn? I don’t disagree with it being taken away, I ask why it was awarded to him in the first place way back in 2009. The organization is free to refund the money donated to them to assuage their consciences, but I’m having trouble understanding why they accepted it in the first place.

I’m calling shame on any organization that has chosen to overlook Sterling’s actions in the past, and who by doing so perpetuate this type of behaviour by choosing to turn a blind eye. LeBron James said it best when he told the media “There’s no room for Donald Sterling in our league. There’s no room for him.” There’s no room for him now, but there never should have been to begin with.

UPDATE: As of the press conference that took place roughly an hour ago, allow me to take the time here to applaud NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to indefinitely ban Donald Sterling for life, as well as fine him the $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed.


This sends the message that there is zero tolerance for this behaviour. Furthermore, Silver is making steps to force a sale of the team, which will require 3/4 of the other owners to agree with the decision. They are not concerned that this will provide any problems.

While my criticisms against the current commissioner, who took the post in February of this year, have made way for my sincere approval of his actions the same cannot be said for his predecessors. What took place today should have happened many years ago, and they have themselves to blame that Sterling is only receiving his comeuppance today.

In regards to the players I remain firmly on the side of Homeboy Sandman. They chose as a body to allow others to speak for them, and as a result surrendered what voice they had. The plans that were made to not play if nothing was done about Sterling mean nothing, because they were only that: plans. Today is a momentous occasion in regards to the elimination of racism, but the Clippers gave up an opportunity to spearhead the victory to stand along the sidelines.

3 responses to “Shame Day: Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the NBA

  1. John’s comment was: “They’re a union, they can’t just speak out without consulting everyone else.”

    • That still doesn’t excuse the fact that Sterling’s behaviour has been making headlines for year and this is the first time they’ve taken him to task for it.

  2. Pingback: Re: Meet The Poster Child For ‘White Privilege’ – Then Have Your Mind Blown | Culture War Reporters

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