Posted April 28, 2014 by Luis Mercado in Sports

A Different Perspective: Why Are We Now Condemning Donald Sterling?

Saturday morning, the sports world and mainstream society as a whole were shocked by comments leaked to TMZ, by billionaire, and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling.

The comments, in which were racist in nature showed what people see as the 80-year-old’s true colors. But Sterling had been accused of multiple shady attacks in the past.

Let’s begin by focusing on his NBA career. Yes, the team has been successful recently, but historically the team has been the dump of the NBA. Only in the early 2000’s did we even begin to respect that team as a legit threat (or at least respectable.)

After buying the San Diego team for $12.5 million in 1981, he moved the team three years later against the NBA’s approval to Los Angeles.

According to Sports Illustrated in 1982, “Sterling is a good example of the kind of ownership problems the league has had in recent years.… He started his crusade with a campaign to boost ticket sales that, oddly enough, featured Sterling’s grinning face on billboards throughout San Diego County.”

Here’s how he began his first year in San Diego. This from an article from ESPN written about the owner in 2009.

Later that year he refused to pay a $1,000 prize to a local lawyer who won a free throw contest until the guy sued for fraud. Sterling even asked Silas to cut costs by taping players himself. Before the next season, he installed an ex-model named Patricia Simmons as assistant GM, putting her at Silas’ desk while the coach was on an NBA promotional trip to China.

Silas returned to find his belongings piled in the hallway. And it was in San Diego that Sterling first employed the money-saving tactic of declining to replace injured Clippers; the team nearly forfeited one game when a player’s emergency dental work temporarily left them with just seven able bodies.

On top of that he was sued in 1996 for sexual harassment, and frequently looked for “‘hostesses’ interested in meeting “celebrities and sports stars,” if you know what I mean. He settled for an undisclosed amount.

One former Clippers coach recalled dropping in on Sterling during a cattle call. “The whole floor reeked of perfume,” he said. “There were about 50 women all dolled up and waiting outside Donald’s office, and another 50 waiting outside the building.” The chosen get to mingle with D-list celebrities and drink wine from plastic cups.

So yes, from the beginning we knew the man was gaining profit from the Clippers, and loved women, but was he a racist?

He was sued in 2003 by 19 of his tenants in an apartment building he had owned. With the Housing Rights Center, Sterling was accused of not fixing repairs requested by some of his black tenants.

“When Sterling first bought the Ardmore, he remarked on its odor to Davenport. ‘That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean,’ he said, according to Davenport’s testimony. ‘And it’s because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.’

He added: ‘So we have to get them out of here.’ …[Kandynce] Jones had repeatedly walked to the apartment manager’s office to plead for assistance, according to sworn testimony given by her daughter Ebony Jones in the Housing Rights Center case. Kandynce Jones’ refrigerator dripped, her dishwasher was broken, and her apartment was always cold. Now it had flooded. Davenport reported what she saw to Sterling, and according to her testimony, he asked: ‘Is she one of those black people that stink?’

When Davenport told Sterling that Jones wanted to be reimbursed for the water damage and compensated for her ruined property, he replied: ‘I am not going to do that. Just evict the bitch.'”

Oh. They also ended up settling for an undisclosed amount. (See a pattern starting to develop here?)

According to Equal Employment Opportunity filings in California, he had he had 74 white employees, four Latinos, zero blacks and 30 Asians, 26 which were women in 2003.

He especially liked Koreans according to a testimony by Dean Segal, chief engineer at a Sterling property called the Mark Wilshire Tower Apartments saying the following statement.

“I like Korean employees and I like Korean tenants, I don’t have to spend any more money on them, they will take whatever conditions I give them and still pay the rent…so I’m going to keep buying in Koreatown.”

“Sometime after Sept. 11, 2001,” an FBI special agent warned that several tenants who were “foreign, I mean as Muslim, or, you know,” were targets of Bureau investigations. Even more bizarre but just as effective at driving away African-Americans and Hispanics, Beverly Hills Properties changed the name of the Wilshire Towers complex to Korean World Towers. A huge banner printed entirely in Korean was hung on the building, and the doormen were replaced by armed, Korean-born guards who were hostile to non-Koreans, again according to testimony given by multiple residents.

If THAT’s not enough, even his own former general manager pulled out a lawsuit against Sterling, claiming the owner of wanting “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach.” Giving Baylor a reason the Clippers were so bad for so many years.

A Clippers draft pick who could actually play was Kansas star Danny Manning. Manning didn’t last in LA. This might be because Sterling, according to Baylor, would grumble that he didn’t like being in a position where “I’m offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.” Baylor’s lawsuit claims the team has “egregious salary disparities” based on race.

Baylor claims he was told to “induce African-American players to join the Clippers, despite the Clippers’ reputation of being unwilling to fairly treat and compensate African-American players.” Baylor says the owner, Donald Sterling, has a “pervasive and ongoing racist attitude.” It also stated that Sterling made clear to Baylor that hiring an African-American head coach was not his preference. This is why Baylor’s lawyers accuse Sterling of having a “vision of a Southern plantation–type structure.”

Baylor also claimed that his salary had been frozen at $350,000 a year since 2003 while “the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22-million contract.”

A jury ruled in Sterling’s favor in 2011.

With all of these stories out throughout the years, players continued to play for the owner, fans continued to support the owner, and we all lent a blind eye.

The NAACP even awarded the owner with the 2009 NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the 2008 NAACP Presidents Award. He was scheduled to be awarded the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award as well at the 100th anniversary celebration, but that has since been scrapped due to the current controversy.

We must also remember that Sterling (born Tokowitz) is an 80-year-old man coming from a different time in which racism was much more prevalent. It doesn’t make it ok, but that along with what seems like high school ribbing from his 1% friends, he continues to hold his views as strongly, stubbornly, yet quietly as possible.

As asked by his girlfriend in the leaked tapes if he wanted to “change the culture,” his only response was that he couldn’t.

“I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too …”

If his peers didn’t come up to him saying anything, would it have been a problem? Is it not only a problem with the Clippers but a bigger problem that there are many at the top of corporate America today holding the same piece of shit state of mind that will continue to hold as back into the future?

Will we even care next week?

There are three sides to every story. We have yet to hear from what seems like a woman scorn in his ex-girlfriend V. Stiviano. Neither have we heard from Sterling personally. As of right now the only statement we have from Sterling is the following through Clippers President Andy Roeser.

“We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or [if] 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.”  Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them. He is also upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him about Earvin [Magic] Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has only the utmost respect and admiration for him — both in terms of who he is and what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter.”

What we do know though, is that this is a person in which multiple parties have decided to not only complain but act against his alleged racist actions in the past.

Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson have spoken. Now the voices of us, the consumer, the employee’s, the fans should be heard as  there are many people like Sterling at the top of the chain holding similar views, and possibly holding us back. We the people should not allow racism to be accepted in the United States of America.

For a more detailed look at Sterling’s life check out Peter Keating’s 2009 ESPN article or Bomani Jones’ Page 2 article.

Other Sources: The Nation, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Deadspin, Washington Post