Racism Pays!

04.27.14

As ‘Punishment,’ Clippers Bigot Donald Sterling Could Make $1 Billion

The NBA will likely suspend L.A. Clippers owner over his racist remarks and ‘encourage’ him to sell the team—and it’s not inconceivable the sale will earn him a $988 million profit.

It’s only going to get worse for embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. On Sunday afternoon, Deadspin released a longer version of everyone’s least-favorite lecherous, reptilian, slumlord billionaire airing his so-called thoughts on race to his (presumably now former) girlfriend, V. Stiviano.

Feel free to listen to more of this poisonous dreck, if you really need to hear how Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp gets dragged in, some very weird and very wrong ideas about “black Jews,” and, of course, the Holocaust.

Unless the tape in question is somehow proved to be a fabrication of such maliciously doctored skill that it’d make Gennifer Flowers blush, Sterling will receive what has to be the largest fine in National Basketball Association history, be suspended, and then be “encouraged”—à la Marge Schott —to find a nice, non-racist fellow .01 percenter to sell the team to.

But even if the league eventually has this pustulant boil of a man forcibly removed, it’d be perfectly understandable if you were driven to pound nails into the floor with your forehead when you start thinking about the gargantuan pile of ducats that will be his ultimate “punishment.”

Sterling purchased the Clippers in 1981 for a mere $12 million, and Forbes recently estimated the team’s total value at $575 million. But consider the recent purchase price of two relatively moribund franchises, the Sacramento Kings and the Milwaukee Bucks—$550 million and $536 million, respectively, far higher than anticipated. Neither are located in Los Angeles, nor do they boast transcendent stars such as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. It’s not inconceivable that the price tag Sterling slaps on the Clippers might approach $1 billion.

And he still gets to treat the minorities who live in his housing projects far worse than he ever did the far more famous, basketball-playing people in his employ. Racism pays! Hooray!

If there are still any questions about why Sterling would own a basketball team—and pursue a relationship with a mixed-race woman—Indiana Pacers forward David West unpacked the historical underpinnings of the octogenarian’s behavior perfectly: “Sterling basically articulated Plantation Politics…Make money off the Bucks/Lay with the Women/No Association in Public good or bad.”

If there’s one bright spot in this utterly fecal mess, it’s that the NBA will no longer be able to pretend that the bigoted, ranting, drunk uncle at the family dinner table doesn’t exist.

No one in this disturbing mini-kitchen sink drama ends up looking good. Yes, Stiviano is with him for his money. And yes, it does appear as if she’s trying to bait him into saying something vile so she can record it. That doesn’t change the fact that when Sterling says, “‘If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl that will do what I want,” it’s painfully clear that he views her (and his team) as just another possession; a shiny toy that his vast wealth allows him to fondle and treat with a total disregard for their humanity. Indeed, what’s gone relatively unmentioned is that, if the latest five-minute clip is any indication, he’s almost as much of a sexist pig as he is a prejudiced swine.

The Clippers owner has issued a somewhat mealy-mouthed denial, attacking Stiviano’s credibility and stating: “We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered. We do know that the woman on the tape—who we believe released it to TMZ—is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even.’”

Sure, Stiviano’s motives may not be entirely pure. Still, the whole thing is so abhorrent that hardly anyone is waiting for the tape to be verified. Even a historically apolitical figure like Michael Jordan intimated that Sterling needs be kicked out of the league, echoing remarks from LeBron James and even President Obama, who was asked about Sterling in Malaysia:

Related: Michael Tomasky on Donald Sterling and the Neverending Fantasy of ‘Democrat’ Racism

“I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you—they kind of speak for themselves,” he said. “…When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here.”

On Saturday night, before the Memphis-Oklahoma City game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Sterling’s drivel, “truly offensive and disturbing” and said the league would conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether the tape was genuine. “We intend to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible,” he said.

The NBA is expected to bring down the hammer in advance of the next Clippers home game on Tuesday. “There are broad powers in place under the NBA’s constitution and bylaws that include a range of sanctions,” Silver said Saturday. “All of those will be considered depending on the findings of our investigation.”

If there’s one bright spot in this utterly fecal mess, it’s that the NBA will no longer be able to pretend that the bigoted, ranting, drunk uncle at the family dinner table doesn’t exist. It’s time for him to go home now. Permanently.

LAffaire Sterling is is a terrible black eye for the league, one that at a minimum is on par with the Tim Donaghy scandal and the Ron Artest melee.

Sacramento Mayor and former guard Kevin Johnson is advising the NBA Players’ Association as it formulates a collective response, and during Sunday afternoon’s Clippers-Warriors game he labeled Sterling’s remarks “a defining moment in the history of the NBA.”

So yes, when you add up the profit that Sterling will reap and the damage to the reputation of game as a whole, when this ends, it won’t be in a way that could be considered a win for anyone involved.

It’s not nearly enough, but if nothing else, at least the NAACP won’t be giving Sterling any gold plaques.

And though the Clippers definitely looked out of sorts and understandably distracted Sunday, losing to the Golden State Warriors 118-97, the silent protest they staged before tipoff said far more than a win ever could