Flagrant Foul: Clippers' Donald Sterling "Apologizes" By Attacking Magic Johnson

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Donald Sterling, who deeply resents Magic Johnson, gives bigotry a bad name

[Speaking Truth To Power]

Disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling recently “apologize,” for his racially offensive language toward Black people that angered many and sparked calls throughout the NBA for his removal from the league.

But in his “apology” interview he launched an attack on The Lakers' legend Magic Johnson.

In a recent CNN Anderson Cooper interview, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling apologized for the racist comments regarding African-Americans. “I’m not a racist,” said Sterling to Cooper. "I made a terrible mistake. I'm here to apologize."

Sterling, who has owned the Los Angeles Clippers since 1981, said "I'm a good member who made a mistake, and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness. Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake, and I'll never do it again."

Mr. Sterling is no doubt worried the NBA owners are about to rule that his Clippers ownership should be revoked. The Clippers owner has already been banned from the NBA for life because of a recording between him and his former girlfriend, V. Stiviano, when, among other things, he said “It bothers me that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with Black people…You can sleep with [Blacks]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want” but “the little I ask you is not to bring them to my games.”

After an outcry, and facing the real possibility of an NBA boycott during the profitable playoffs, new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to his credit swiftly banned Sterling for life and recommended that NBA Governors strip Sterling of ownership of the Clippers. The NBA governors have not yet voted on Commissioner Silver’s recommendation. The impending vote on his fate may well have been the only reason Mr. Sterling decided to apologize.

His version of a pre-emptive strike.

On Tuesday, during an advisory\finance meeting committee meeting, NBA owners apparently discussed the upcoming vote—and the CNN interview. The committee will reconvene next week. Commissioner Silver—who apologized to Magic Johnson for Sterling’s comments in which he attacked Magic during the Anderson Cooper CNN interview—purportedly stated that owners were working "as expeditiously as possible” to oust Sterling from ownership of the Clippers.

Reportedly, according to NBA rules, Sterling must first be charged with violating Article 13 of the NBA’s constitution, in writing, before facing a board of governors where a three-fourths vote would remove him from ownership.

During Sterling’s so-called “apology” interview things got really weird when the subject of Magic Johnson came up. In fact, this whole controversy started because of an Instagram photo Ms. Stiviano took with Johnson. In the now infamous recording, Sterling said "Admire him, bring him here, feed him, fuck him, but don't put (Magic) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me" he said.

The CNN interview made it clear Sterling harbors a grudge against Johnson. “What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about?" Sterling asked in the interview. "I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the Black people? He doesn't do anything."

Some people have a talent for putting their foot, or rear end, in their mouth. Is he really trying to sit in judgment of who should be considered a role model? If catching HIV disqualifies you from being a role model, how about being a bigot who got rich off Black folk?

In the interview, Sterling states that many prominent African-Americans don’t do anything for their people. There is some truth there. But that surely doesn’t absolve him from the responsibility he should’ve felt to the Black community—especially, since Black players made multimillions for him. What has he done to give back? Then again, he did say he supports Black players by giving “them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses" in his recorded interview with the former girlfriend. Rather then regarding them as the professional athletes that they are, he apparently sees them as underlings on his charitable plantation.  

This shameful scoundrel for years underpaid players—relative to the average NBA contracts. This is why the Clippers were the NBA’s laughingstock for years with no top-caliber players. Moreover, we know by the account of Hall-of-Famer Elgin Baylor that he was underpaying him—while paying millions to a White coach. He wants to trash Magic about philanthropy but doesn’t want to pay Black people who work for him?

Mr. Sterling claims he made “one mistake” and should be forgiven. But attacking a wholesome NBA icon like Magic Johnson shows just how clueless and insensitive he is. By denigrating Johnson he committed yet another flagrant foul that should make it even easier for the NBA owners to revoke his ownership.

Why is he so angry with Magic? When he sarcastically talked about “big Magic Johnson” going to “every city” and “having sex with every girl,” what was that all about? Is it the same thing that enraged him when he saw the Instagram picture of his girlfriend smiling with “big Magic Johnson?”

The chutzpah of this clown to say Magic isn’t a role model because of Magic’s sexual dalliances during his playing days. Let’s remember, we know of Sterling’s racism because of the woman he was sleeping with—who, coincidentally, isn’t his wife. As a married, man who is sleeping around with a woman who could be his great granddaughter, does he think he’s a better role model?

Mr. Sterling claims he has never been racist. He should be asked about the allegation that he said, of former player Danny Manning, “I'm offering a lot of money for a poor Black kid?” And what about Elgin Baylor’s claim that Sterling said he wanted to fill the Clippers with "poor Black boys from the South and a White head coach?” And was Baylor’s salary frozen at $350,000 while “the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22-million contact,” as was alleged in a lawsuit?

In a 2006 housing lawsuit, slumlord Sterling purportedly discriminated against Latino tenants because they just “smoke, drink and just hang around the building." According to the same suit he also said “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.” Is that why he told his ex-girlfriend not to bring Blacks to his games?

Sterling represent a time all Americans should be ashamed of: when African-Americans were expected to entertain Whites but certainly weren’t allowed to socialize on equal terms with them. While raking in money produced by his Black players he’s frowning on any close connections with Black people. But making money off of the backs of Black people is as American as apple pie.

Sterling’s apology has nothing to do with being sorry for his racist rants. This is about appealing to those other NBA owners—who will decide if he retains ownership of the Clippers team that has made him filthy rich. He wasn’t talking to African-Americans. He was talking to the other White men that make up the vast majority of NBA team owners.

The CNN interview is another example of this pathetic prejudiced man who has gotten fat off of NBA players like Magic Johnson. In the interview, he insinuates that Magic wants to take the Clippers from him. That would be poetic justice—in a league that though 80 percent of the players are Black, majority ownership is stuck at 2 percent. 


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