COLUMN: No surprise, Clippers owner banned for life from NBA

Tuesday afternoon NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference announcing the lifetime ban for Donald Sterling with the Clippers organization and the NBA. Sterling will also be fined $2.5 million, the max amount possible.

Sterling will also be forced to sell the team. What I find interesting is that according to Forbes, Sterling’s net worth is $1.9 billion. Seems somewhat of a forced retirement for Sterling, seeing as how he never denied the recordings. Sterling will also have the chance to take the decision to court if he feels the punishment was too harsh but that is yet to be seen.

The 80-year-old billionaire, NBA’s longest tenured owner, has come under fire for comments he had in a recorded conversation with a particular mistress young enough to be his granddaughter. TMZ and Deadspin released portions of the conversation over the weekend that then led to a national outcry.

In the recording, a male voice questions his girlfriend’s association with minorities. TMZ reported the woman as V. Stiviano and of black and Mexican descent.

The man asked Stiviano not to broadcast her association with black people on Instagram or bring black people to games. The man specifically mentions Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson on the recording, saying, “Don’t bring him to my games, OK?”

Former FIU forward Tymell Murphy, who is currently training to be selected in this years NBA Draft, values self respect no matter how much money could be thrown at him. “I wouldn’t play for him. That’s about my pride and dignity. Just can’t accept that even if money is involved,” said Murphy.

What makes this whole case even more surprising to me is that Sterling has been known to harass his own team from the center-court seat where he’s been for decades yet it wasn’t until an entertainment website caught wind of particular audio that the world took notice.

Sterling has been through federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination in business but rarely does the news surface before multimillion-dollar settlements are made.

It was said that in the 1980’s, Sterling would publicly pray for a last-place finish in hopes of selecting the top player in the draft the next season. Players also claimed they would receive their paychecks on Fridays after banks closed, possibly a way to prevent them from bouncing.

Let us not forget one of the biggest deals under Sterling that no one seems to know or remember. In 1984, Sterling abruptly moved the team to Los Angeles from San Diego and received a $25 million fine from the NBA but later countersued and had the penalty sharply reduced, all the moves from a man who did anything to avoid losing money.

Aside from the legal matters, the Clippers have collected the worst record in North American pro sports during his first 25 years in charge and yet he is still the big man of the organization but despite the horrendous record, the latest controversy may be what bans him from the NBA for life.

Several major sponsors have already dropped or re-evaluated their association with the team Monday following the release of the audio, including State Farm, CarMax, Kia Motors America, Virgin America and Red Bull.

President Obama has even commented on the case while currently in Malaysia. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” said Obama.

The biggest joke that I can’t help but smirk at was the announcement that Johnson would no longer attend Clippers game as long as Sterling is owner. How is it that someone like Magic had absolutely no idea of Sterling’s true face? Or did he just turn his back to the biggest thing to come out of the Clippers organization?

Yet no one asks that but Johnson can breathe a sigh of relief and return to the Staples Center.

What about this so called mistress of his? The one who recently recorded a closed doors conversation with Sterling. Yes, what Sterling said is beyond horrible but it was said during a private separate conversation. I’ve yet to hear questions about the context in which the audio was received or did we as society also turn our back on the importance of privacy?

Until now, most of the displeasure toward Sterling has been based on his performance as an owner, not towards any perceived racist beliefs or actions. When the Clippers became a contender thanks to the acquisition of All-Star guard Chris Paul, any concern about Sterling’s stewardship of the team started to disappear.

A large number basketball-loving fans in Los Angeles embraced the Clippers for the sake of not wanting to jump on the Lakers bandwagon. When the Clippers’ fortunes changed, they became the purists who wanted to be part of history despite the reputation of the owner.

Now that the Clippers are worth watching, Sterling will never be allowed to watch from courtside again. Fan protests and boycotts are expected at the Staples Center Tuesday night when the Clippers continue their playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. Both teams are tied at two games apiece.

About the Author

Patrick Chalvire
: Radio Host for Panther Sports Talk Live. Assistant Sports Director for The Beacon. Majoring in Communication Arts. Sports fan and aspiring anchor.

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