Hey, don't get me wrong, I was thrilled, ecstatic even when I heard the news that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver dropped the hammer on the white supremacist known as Donald Sterling. The owner of the NBA Clippers has been banned for life from associating with the Clippers and the NBA, and fined the maximum of $2.5 million. In addition, commissioner Adam Silver said he has asked the Board of Governors to force a sale of the Clippers. Silver has only been on the job for a few months.
Should have been done long ago (and why, in the name of God, was the NAACP actually getting ready to give this guy an award).
You do wonder where everyone has been looking until now. We're talking about a guy who has been sued twice for housing discrimination. Back in 2009 Sterling agreed to pay a record $2.725 million to settle allegations that he discriminated against African Americans, Hispanics and families with children at scores of apartment buildings he owns in and around Los Angeles.
We should also recall that according to then-GM Paul Phipps, during an airport meeting with Rollie Massimino—a potential candidate to replace the fired Paul Silas as head coach—Donald Sterling asked the Villanova coach: "I wanna know why you think you can coach these niggers." Massimino told Phipps he began screaming at Sterling and swore he’d rather die than become coach of the Clippers.
It goes on. It went on. ESPN, The Magazine did a little piece on Sterling a while back. Here are a few of the highlights as noted on Deadspin:
Again, why were we still dealing with this guy as late as yesterday?
I'd suggest a glance at the book Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden. While the book wasn't as good as I hoped it would be, its author as written on Sports in Black and White effectively:
... continually compares the sports world to the plantation systems of the 19th century, asserting that white owners remain in control of their black “slaves” and derive profit from their labor.
John Garrison Marks adds on the Rice website:
In the book, Rhoden argues that from the time sports were introduced to plantations in the antebellum South through the present, black athletes have been exploited and denied a place within the power structure of American athletics. Whenever black athletes are perceived to have gained too much power or to pose a threat to white cultural values, the rules are changed to detriment of blacks. In essence, the rules of modern athletics are rigged against black athletes to ensure that they are barred from positions of power.
Although basketball and the NBA are steeped in black culture, and while 80% of NBA players are African-American, the league is no different in some ways than any other professional sports league.
As Jerod Mustaf writes at Sportsblog.com,
While the NBA is the most diverse professional sports league in the world, the culture of NBA ownership is relatively intact. The fact remains that in 68 years, there is still only one majority-minority owner in the NBA and he(MJ) was only able to purchase from another minority during a 'fire sale'. The question for the owners who have been largely silent on the Sterling matter, is whether they are also part of the culture often mentioned on the Sterling recordings, and is this the investigation that Adam Silver was referring that he would (did?) initiate.
Josh Levin at Slate makes a direct connection to Sterling and writes:
Elgin Baylor, the Clippers’ longtime general manager, laid out Sterling’s plantation mindset in a 2009 employment discrimination lawsuit. Baylor, an African-American,accused Sterling of saying he “wanted the Clippers team to be composed of ‘poor black boys from the South’ and a white head coach.” (In the years hence, Sterling did bring in Doc Rivers to coach the team, so I guess that’s some kind of progress.) Baylor also alleged that Sterling told Clippers draft pick Danny Manning, in the presence of David Stern, that he was “offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.”
Rhoden, by the way, does not exempt the vast majority of players, African American sports figures, from criticism. Where have they been he asks? How have they become so divorced from their own communities? Rhoden answers the question in an interesting manner:
I will conclude this with a bit from the site US Slave (citing Sports Illustrated as a source):
"Though integration was a major pivot in the history of the black athlete, it was not for the positive reasons we so often hear about. Integration fixed in place myriad problems: a destructive power dynamic between black talent and white ownership; a chronic psychological burden for black athletes, who had to constantly prove their worth; disconnection of the athlete from his or her community; and the emergence of the apolitical black athlete, who had to be careful what he or she said or stood for, so as not to offend white paymasters. At the same time it destroyed an autonomous zone of black industry, practically eliminating every black person involved in sports -- coaches, owners, trainers, accountants, lawyers, secretaries and so on -- except the precious on-field talent."
Rhoden concludes his mostly bleak but profoundly educational survey with a manifesto. "Winning means ownership: owning teams, owning networks, owning the means of communication, and owning our collective image," he writes. He also proposes the creation of "an association of black professional athletes [that] would galvanize the power of a rich past and a prosperous present and figure out a plan for the future." It remains to be seen how many $40 million slaves will so rise, even in semi-revolt.
The following is from Racism Review.