Everyone has been focused in on the comments made by the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling from an audio recording obtained by TMZ between Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano. In the recording Sterling made racist comments about photos of Stiviano on Instagram with Magic Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. Sterling received an appropriate punishment handed down from NBA commissioner Adam Silver – a $2.5 million fine and a lifetime ban from the NBA. It is easy to understand why he received the sanctions, but as a society we need to look at the Sterling situation and realize that racism is much larger than words.
Sterling found himself in a racially-fueled housing dispute 10 years ago. In this dispute Sterling and his then wife, Shelly Sterling, were at the forefront of a racial discrimination case over the housing units they owned. They blatantly said they did not want blacks or Latinos residing there and were forced to pay the largest housing discrimination judgment in American history. Shelly, who for some reason is receiving an open-armed welcome from the Clippers and the NBA, served as intimidator during this housing fiasco.
The Sterlings made life a living hell for minorities, literally. In one of the complaints, a woman did not have a fire alarm in her home. Her apartment caught on fire, she was forced to move elsewhere but because she was still on a lease she had to pay for her burnt, empty apartment, ruining her credit and wallet.
NBA players and major sports players also have to realize that discrimination goes far beyond words. The low standards set by former NBA commissioner David Stern to become an NBA franchise owner have let businessmen crooked businessmen like Donald Sterling. Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, and Orlando Magic owner and Amway CEO Richard DeVos into the league.
If players and coaches want to throw a fit and threaten to boycott when an old, white man says something stupid, they should do some independent research on the men who are signing their checks. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant was awarded the NBA’s league MVP. He spent a lot of time speaking about his teammates, but what does he have to say about his owner? If NBA players feel so obliged to speak their mind during a time of controversy, then they should be obliged to speak their mind at any time.
This has been a problem with players for years. Players need to speak up and realize that racism and discrimination are far deeper than words.