Monday, April 28, 2014
Have we really missed the progress wagon by this much?
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
“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.”
Don’t put him [Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
- Clippers owner Donald Sterling
OK, those of you that know me know I generally abhor political correctness. I think a lot of things happen in the media regarding things people say that are overblown for their own sake; apologies get issued and people get sued for specious reasons. There are times when I think people need to grow thicker skins.
This isn't one of them.
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has uncorked one of the most venomous bees' nests of racism I can remember in a long time. This is foul, unimaginably hurtful, and just plain despicable, no matter what the color of your skin is. It speaks of some of the basest hatred a human can have for another - the unwarranted kind.
The obvious tack here is that it's a huge cock punch to the NBA. Only 17% of the total 2011 NBA player roster was Caucasian. If Mr. Sterling indeed made these statements, as the tape appears to bear out; well, he has deeply offended not just that 83%, but everyone in the NBA. And it's not just a gaffe, not a mere slip of the tongue. This was well-practiced, natural vitriol. I'm amazed that only two other owners have spoken out about this as of this writing (Michael Jordan and Miami Heat owner Micky Arison).
“If the reports are true, it’s unacceptable,” said Heat superstar LeBron James. “It’s unacceptable in our league. It doesn't matter if you’re white, black, Hispanic, whatever, all across the races.” James added, “there is no room for Donald Sterling in our league.”
LeBron has it right.
This is bigger than just the NBA though. This is "How do we, as a culture, deal with people in positions of great power and impact who behave like idiots?" How do we reconcile an obvious racist holding a position of particular sensitivity to the groups he has so offended?
For me, I think the other owners and the Commissioner of the NBA need to find a way to force Sterling out; he should be forced to sell his team. Yeah, it's pretty extreme, and I'm generally not a big fan of interfering with capitalism, but it's the only way to demonstrate to Sterling (Not his real name, by the way, his last name is really Tokowitz, he made his money as a divorce and personal-injury ambulance chaser) the intolerable nature of his words.
And if I were Chris Paul - playoffs be damned, I'd be boycotting games.
Posted by Phil Traynor