Three days ago Donald Sterling, technically still the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, got exposed for being a racist and a scumbag in a very real and dramatic way. I’ll assume you haven’t been living under a rock, but just in case you have I reference the incident here.
Earlier today NBA commissioner Adam Silver handed down about the strictest punishment you can give and there may still be more to come. The range of emotion seems to swing from one extreme (screw this racist old pokey and sell his team to anyone else) to the other (this is America and I thought free speech meant something). It’s gotten to the point where the POTUS has been forced to comment on the situation all the way from Malaysia because clearly, there is nothing going on in the world more important than the NBA playoffs and what some out of touch slumlord thinks of his employees.
Personally I am glad that Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA, not necessarily because of what he said but because there’s only so much a Clipper fan can take.
For all the years when he fielded a team that couldn’t win the NCAA tournament let alone an NBA title; for the way he treated many of his employees including Hall of Famers that worked for him; for having the gall to even have a side piece with disgusting toupee like he wears — these are reasons enough to ban the man. DS did not become a racist three days ago. He became the victim of a scorned woman with a damning piece of evidence and of his own inability to see the world for what it is.
I heard a story on NPR this morning about an 80+ year old who was sent to jail for stealing jewelry. It was far from her first offense and she was sentenced to two years in jail plus probation thereafter. At first I was sad that an elderly person would potentially spend her last years in jail and then I thought, “If you haven’t learned by the time you are that old, it’s probably best that you stay the hell away from the rest of us.”
Donald Sterling will never change. And this is why he had to go. If you can find a way to justify his behavior, then you are missing the larger point. Rarely does life give us such a golden opportunity to cut out a poison so cleanly and permanently and when it does, we owe it to our overall health to do so. DS will be a racist and loser until his dying breath, which will be relatively soon. The truth is our country will be better off when people like him are extinct. We’ll only really remember them and shake our heads sadly that people used to think and act like this.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the first amendment. I believe that every American should have the right to say what he or she feels pretty much whenever. But with that comes accepting the consequences of our words and the far-reaching impact. Should that conversation have been recorded? Probably not. What does that matter to the Clippers though, or to the many people who have been directly affected by the attitude behind the words?
I am exercising my first amendment rights to give Donald Sterling’s public life its proper eulogy. Hopefully the money he makes from selling his franchise will buy him a beautiful final resting place far away from black people.
As awful as being a Clipper fan felt three days ago, that’s how brightly the sun shines over LA now. Whether or not we beat the Warriors, there is a sense moving forward that new life flows through the franchise. Clipper fans can be hopeful of a truly bright future without ol’ Simon Legree lurking in the shadows. And what is being a sports fan but having hope?
So here’s to you Mr. Sterling. You will be able to afford NBA League Pass and watch your team from the rat cave or wherever you’ll be perched. Enjoy your exile and know that it couldn’t have happened to a shittier guy. Thank you for the smokescreen donations you’ve made to the local NAACP chapter. And thank you for the $2,5MM fine you’ll pay from your small change purse. You will not always be despised by the community. One day soon, you’ll be forgotten entirely.