Donald Sterling fiasco leaves no one looking good

I don't drift from Bulls news too frequently on this blog, but the Donald Sterling scenario is one I needed to comment on. It's an odd story that might be heading towards a good ending, after all, a racist is exposed and headed out of the NBA, if not as an owner, at least as a participant in anything related to what he owns.

However, it's a winding trail with how we got there, now full of finger pointing all over the place. Who should we really point the finger at? Ourselves. As a society, we're a bunch of idiots on this one, and no one looks good coming out of it.

Adam Silver's coming out looking pretty good initially, but should he? How hard was this decision? He probably went to the NBA's team of lawyers and said "what's the worst we can do to this guy" and then did it. I doubt it took more than five minutes to figure out he wanted to go that route. The rest was just some research into what the worst was.

The NBA may have wanted to do this earlier, Sterling has likely always been the embarrassing uncle of the owners. The one they wanted to pretend wasn't in the family but couldn't get rid of. However, they didn't push to do so when they thought it might cause negative publicity and have little chance for success. In other words, their decision on Sterling was business oriented not morally oriented.

It took the public mandate to get this done. That shows how powerful a real public mandate it is. That's why it's our fault, the public's fault, this wasn't done earlier. People will argue they didn't know, fair enough, I can understand why you wouldn't unless you lived in an area where Sterling was a common story.

However, the players certainly knew. That's why they don't look any better than the NBA.

Doc Rivers, who's outraged and could never coach again for this man, absolutely knew prior to signing his contract there. Chris Paul definitely knew what he was getting into prior to deciding to stay with the Clippers.

I don't blame them for taking the money, it was probably just a little voice that they wanted to deny and didn't want to think about. They likely barely ever interacted with him, and I'm sure he managed not to be a racist asshole to their faces. Even racists realize that it isn't acceptable in society right now and will cover it up.

That said, they still knew. Elgin Baylor sued the guy for racial discrimination. This wasn't a secret held by the NBA, the players were all in on it as well and are just as culpable for supporting him.

What sucks is society has taken this view:

The fact that he doesn't mind if his mixed girlfriend [he's married by the way] sleeps with Magic Johnson as long as she doesn't take pictures with him at a game to post on instagram is a fricken outrage to these guys.

Not the fact that he's cheating on his wife [hey NBA players can get in on that too], nor the fact that his housing discrimination has actually very negative impact on actual black families.

Nope, we're upset about some meaningless words in a crazy rant, which was clearly set up by this woman in an attempt to extort him.

Sorry Adam, sorry Doc, sorry Chris, sorry John Q public, we don't have any moral high ground, we're all piling on when it's easy. Chris Paul, you're the head of the players association and knew damn well what this guy was about and took his money rather than rallying players to toss him out.

It's good that Sterling will be ostracized and hopefully lose his team. However, Adam Silver shouldn't get a whole lot of extra credit for doing what he did. He did the maximum, but he also did the minimum. He did it while there was no risk.

The players will hopefully be rid of a racist owner, but they shouldn't engage in so much hand shaking and good cheer about it. You're the ones who had the best chance to make this happen earlier and didn't.

Justice was served, but it was a backwards, half-assed, accidental kind of justice.

The public did what the public does. Out of all the things Sterling's said or done in his life, it kind of sucks that this crazy rant [that makes me wonder if he's even mentally stable] is the thing that does him in.

The fact that he could get away with meaningful racism his whole life without suffering any real punishment but gets knocked off over someone publicly extorting him and setting him up exposes both how powerful and insane the public mandate is.

It's a facebook/twitter information age society, and so once this story went viral it was over for Sterling. I don't know any way to fix it the public's reaction to a real issue.

Nor am I better than anyone else. In fact, I'm probably worse. I bury my head to almost all news that isn't sports related. I haven't been lobbying for the Clippers to get rid of Sterling either.

I'm piling on like everyone else.

I'm glad he's going to be gone. I'm embarrassed about how we got here. I'm embarrassed for the NBA, the players, and the public. However, I'm probably most embarrassed for myself, because like everyone else, this story will open my eyes for awhile, but they'll slowly shut again. The outrage won't stick, I'll go on to writing about whether the Bulls should amnesty Boozer or trade Jimmy Butler.

I'll quietly stick my head back in the sand with the rest of society until the next topic worthy of outrage creeps up. That's really what's wrong. We aren't fighting this [or any other important public battle on a long standing issue]. Just when a smoking gun is waved in our faces long enough that we'd feel stupid not to say something about it.


[p.s. I've had three hours of sleep in the last forty hours, so I apologize in advance if I read this later and it comes out like incoherent rambling, there is a point I was trying to get across, but I wouldn't be surprised if in my present not so thinking clearly state I didn't do so correctly. I had already waited a day longer than I wanted to write this piece and didn't want to put it off another day]

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  • Interesting take, Doug. Good stuff.

  • If the Bulls actually keep and use the picks, I'm intrigued by Zack Lavine as an upside SG. Athletic and can actually shoot.

    A less upside SG prospect, but one with a skill that carries over nicely (shooting) is Nik Stauskas. With creators like Rose and Melo, Stauskas would really help spacing and he has nice size. Perhaps a better athlete than we give him credit for, but still that holds him back and reduces upside.

    Cleanthony Early, especially if we bring over Mirotic and do not get Melo b/c he's more of a 3. Love his game and has NBA size. Anyone who watched the Wichita St-Kentucky game knows what I'm talking about.

    Jerami Grant if GarPax feels that his stroke translates to improved shooting in year 2 and 3 in the NBA. Thus, could be more of high upside guy to stash on the bench. Otherwise, nice upside and NBA size. He's an NBA SF, so needs to hit the corner 3 though!

    I think the ultimate home run if the Bulls can move up by trading Noah and other picks - this years and/or the Sactown pick and/or future picks:

    Wiggins. He's the real deal. Has nice shooting range. (see FL game where he hit several 3's in the closing minutes...) High-end NBA athlete. Great NBA size and length. Already a strong defender.

    Butler/ Wiggins
    Melo/ Snell
    Gibson/ Mirotic

    *** Moving Noah opens up tons of cap space. So, can sign Melo and bring over Mirotic. I'm assuming Chicago trades up with Philly, but could be anyone.

    Nice balance adding a future young star in Wiggins. Wiggins would have less pressure in this situation and could grow into an NBA star.

    An excellent small ball lineup with Wiggins at the 2, Butler at the 3, Melo at the 4 and Gibson at the 5.

    This team would be 7 deep with 2 stars and a future star. I'd use Noah and several picks to make this happen.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Great lineup! But no one is trading Wiggins. :)

  • In reply to Granby:

    Sorry, meant to put this in the draft article.

  • I can't pass up a chance to bash David Stern, a former housing attorney who knew full well about Sterling's character. Sure, everyone is responsible to some degree but Stern was a guy with power to do something, and he loved to use power on much smaller transgressions than what Sterling has committed in the past. What it comes down to is that like most bullies, Stern is a coward at heart, knew Sterling would fight and wanted no part of it.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I basically agree with you about Stern. Besides, Stern made some highly questionable decisions, a lot of them involving refs and penalties, that I personally felt were unjust. Yet he repeatedly turned a blind eye to unjust bias by the refs, and he heavily fined anyone in the NBA who complained about it. This was supposedly to maintain "respect for the game."

    The new administration is freely admitting some major foul-ups by the refs, and it is refreshing to see. That is the honest way to maintain respect for the game. Perhaps this will upgrade the refereeing - we can hope.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    That seemed to be the mysterious gorilla in the room. Adam Silver was, in effect, asked why nothing was done about Sterling earlier, and the response essentially was "I did something when the information got to the NBA."

    Apparently, the only way the NBA gets information like this is if the sleaze at TMZ publishes it first. Then the problem (which Silver also seemed to acknowledge) was that no matter what Silver had done, now this had embarrassed the league, and Sterling is to be kicked out for that reason, other than a stated violation of the NBA constitution (Silver also said that the lawyers would have to get back to the reporter who asked about that).

    Maybe the funniest (noted on Jimmy Kimmel), but most ironic aspect of this was that the owner of the Bunny Ranch put a lifetime ban on Sterling, because Sterling was offensive to the many NBA players who "come here to party." I didn't think that NBA players had to pay for that kind of service.

  • It is a bit ironic that the A in NBA stands for association. Given that Sterling is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA, every other single owner, when buying his team, willingly associated himself with Sterling, and has continued to be willing to associate himself with Sterling until now, though Sterling's history was well known to all but the early buyers.

    I don't blame the players and I largely don't blame Rivers. I think players play for each other, rather than feel like they play for an owner. At least that is the case for true teams. The players take a paycheck which has the owner's signature on it, but frankly the owner is just collecting money from the fans and passing it on to the players (taking out a significant vig on the way). So I am not sure how much players really even think about ownership when deciding where to play. Perhaps they should but they largely don't I suspect.

    In the end I now want the Clippers to win the championship. Nothing would be better than to see them win and for Sterling to be nowhere in sight when Doc is handed the championship trophy.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I don't see how you can blame the owners, but not the players. Every team in the league would have given CP3 a comparable deal and Rivers could have gone anywhere he wanted, too. How can people bitch that players won't come to Chicago because of how Reinsdorf demolished the dynasty, but players don't care about playing for a racist?

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    CP3 got a max deal from the Clips. I don't think he could have gotten that anywhere else under the CBA. Remember he was traded there originally.

    By the way, I am not one of those who think that players haven't gone to the Bulls for the reason you state.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    CP3 could have forced a sign and trade anywhere he wanted to go.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    So does that mean that Melo can force a sign and trade anywhere he wants to go and get a max contract out of it?

  • In reply to bjb57:
  • We may not care to admit it, but we are all very much products of our time, our era. Donald Sterling is simply an old man whom time has passed by. Remember the racist Archie Bunker character from the "All In The Family" TV series? That TV show debuted in 1971, its now 2014, 43 years later, yet Sterling's mind is still shaped like Archie Bunker. Not that everyone was an Archie Bunker back then, but that mindset was much more common in that earlier era than now.

    When Sterling was a kid watching baseball, MLB was still 100% white and blacks played in a separate Negro League. Well into his adulthood, Jim Crow laws were still prevalent all across the South. There was no Civil Rights movement, nor political correctness. It's not an excuse, it just is what it is. Times have changed, Sterling hasn't.

    Sterling was born April 26, 1934. Nice 80th birthday present he got from this V. Stiviano. I'm amazed at the free pass the media is giving this tramp. Speaking of 'products of our time', releasing a recording of a private conversation to broadcast media is now somehow justified because what was said is not politically correct.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Interesting post. The divulging of private conversations recorded without knowledge and disseminated to the public to the result of discrediting and personal sanctions is disturbing in a next level Twitter sort of mob rule. 1984 concerns may be exaggerated, but justified to some extent in my view. Still, Sterling was deservedly burned and hopefully others less infamous will not be held accountable/liable for private conversations without the recourse of civil action.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    What she did is actually illegal in CA unless she can prove that she had Sterlings consent. I have no sympathy for Sterling(he is a total wack job freak of nature, I actually interviewed with him face to face in the early 90's) but I also wouldn't mind if the gold digging whore got prosecuted and did some jail time. She actually committed a crime, sterling just exercised his right as an American to be as jerky as we wanna be.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Not even Archie Bunker was Archie Bunker then. Archie was supposedly a portrayal of Norman Lear's father, portrayed though the eyes of Michael Stivic.

  • Regarding Donald Sterling as a known racist owning an NBA franchise for decades "We aren't fighting this [or any other important public battle on a long standing issue]" Well said Doug.

    One longstanding issue: The divide between rich and poor is growing at an alarming rate; Blacks/African-Americans are hugely disproportionate in that growing divide.

    Honestly people are so compartmentalized now with the internet, services like Netflix, endless sports on cable packages, social media like Twitter and Facebook, smart phone texting, apps, games, etc. I mean who the hell wants to spend their free time on the woes of the world that really personally doesn't seem to effect us whatsoever? Does anyone argue our government is in one of the most partisan, corrupted by monies periods in it's history? And nobody gives a shit other then the rare occasional, "I can't believe how bad it is" in response to some economic catastrophe.

    Honestly, nobody is going to be honest about race. They can't. It's too emotionally charged. Hell, you probably don't even discuss it with your closest friends or if so they don't know how you really feel deep down or vice versa. It's sort of like sex. You could have a completely different sensibility then anyone around you realizes but live/present a conventional facade due to social status, peer expectations of your profession, ethnic culture, chauvinism etc.

    In your deepest thoughts on race one day you could think, "Look, these guys(predominantly black) pretty much all get stoned regularly and blow all their earnings like fools." Then another day you could think, "These guys largely come from shitty backgrounds as far as neighborhoods, fatherless in many cases etc. It's not their fault they get into AAU where agents etc. make it all about coddling you to get a piece of your money. So you don't grow as individuals being challenged morally or learning discipline and personal responsibility. And you really feel sorry for the players because it's become all about the money not to their benefit but so over the top it's to their detriment.

    Race isn't easy. I do have to say it's hard to like a lot of young players today, but then again with some of the brutal racism past players faced behind closed doors a lot of them probably do not care for a lot of white folks either unless they played with them, went to school with them lived by them etc..

    It's a tough subject and unfortunately the political correctness has really while enabling the rights of former discriminated it has also muddied the waters on real, honest dialogue and categorization of actions from a justice/intent standpoint. Which the fear of miss-stepping can be ironically manipulated by disingenuous, wealthy, and politically powerful who in some cases could care less about economic or racial disparity and suffering. The fear is simply a tool to be manipulated and a stepping stone in some cases. It's tough.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    But you seem to forget that Adam Silver mentioned one black "principal owner," not by name, but someone we know left his wife in Highland Park, IL, to take up with a hot Latina. Maybe distinguishable is that he married the latter.

  • Good points everyone.

    Sterling is a lot like other 80 year olds. Ignorant. There are a lot of older racist people. Not all old people are racist, but for reasons stated above, times were just different. I'm almost 40, but I'm sure that my kids who are all 5 and under will be even less prejudiced than me. My wife and I choose our words carefully so that our kids can make decisions without considering color or religion.

    To be prejudiced, one must be taught that way of thinking. Some is inherent in our society and is unavoidable, however. If Sterling says these same comments at 26 years old in 1960, nothing happens.

    So, I think we are progressing as a society, although slowly.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Not sure that is has to be specifically taught, it can simple be acquired through your life experiences. We are all filled with prejudices(just not necessarily race based ones) and we learned/acquired them all through our particular set of life experiences.

    That is the primary reason why I feel that the average black american is actually more racist than the average white american, they essentially view every aspect of their lives thru the prism of race. Really all self proclaimed minority groups(that includes women) are more (ist), whatever the (ist) may be than most of the people that they are railing against.

    As for discrimination we are all discriminated against every day and in every aspect of our lives, by everything that we say, do, wear, how we behave. The essence of the word is not inherently evil, it is most simply the ability to identify differences. You don't hear it much anymore, but it used to be a compliment to say of someone, he(or she) has descriminating(or very) tastes.

    As for Sterling himself, I couldn't care less about the man or the topic.

  • Hell hath no fury.............................

  • Brilliant article Doug. Agree with every word.

  • Speaking of Asik, O.K. maybe we weren't but anyway, look who seems to be responsible for bringing LA back to earth.

    "As for Aldridge crashing back down to Earth, you can credit an adjustment by Rockets coach Kevin McHale. After debating whether to start center Omer Asik for Game 1, McHale finally pulled the trigger in Game 3 and Aldridge has consequently regressed to the mean. His eight points on Wednesday were the second-fewest in a game this season."

    "We're just trying to keep bigger bodies on him and try to make him shoot over the top," McHale said of Aldridge. "He didn't get as many shots."

    Asik, who fouled out with 10 points and 15 rebounds, drew the assignment on Aldridge for the majority of the game and never let Aldridge get into rhythm, something that Howard and former starter Terrence Jones struggled with mightily in the first two games.

    "He was huge," McHale said of Asik. "He's a real pro and does his job all the time. He's a very, very smart basketball player and if you're playing against a guy like Aldridge, you have to be smart."

    Yea, I still miss having his size around, think you we could have used it against the Wiz, think that Noah could have used a few more minutes of rest.

  • Aside from the obvious angle that Doug and others have covered, there are two things that I think aren't getting enough coverage in this story.

    Firstly Donald Sterling stands to make an - inflation adjusted - a 30x profit (conservative estimate) on his initial investment despite being close to the worst possible owner you could be. Anyone who believes the rubbish that society is a meritocracy needs look no further than Donald Sterling.

    Secondly what is Magic Johnson's role in all this? I'm sure it's just a coincidence that he was photographed with Sterling's girlfriend, who recorded him going on a rant about it, that caused the NBA to effectively strip him of a team that Magic Johnson wants to buy. I shed no tears for Sterling, but was it Magic that set up the whole situation for his own benefit?

  • In reply to Shakes:

    That is an interesting take on Magic Johnson's possible involvement.... Because nobody is accepting responsibility for leaking the recording to the media, so we don't really know and anything is possible.

    I think what is reasonable to assume is that whomever leaked the recording had malice towards Donald Sterling and wanted to harm him in some way or cause some action to be taken against him. This wasn't just some casual/random leak, it was a leak with a purpose. Likely premeditated intent to harm/damage Sterling. Which should open a slew of questions....

    What I find ridiculous about the media is there is no discussion of any of these possibilities. There is just feigned moral outrage piling onto Sterling (Archie Bunker), yet no media is asking the who, what, where, when, why questions that might provide some insight, some understanding of who wanted/intended to harm/damage Sterling.

    How many know the legal definition of "Tort"? I know former lawyer Donald Sterling does.

  • In reply to Edward:

    He was my #1 favorite player as a kid.
    Here's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's take on the Donald Sterling - V. Stiviano mess. Kareem is the first person to ask some serious questions about the intent of V. Stiviano and not give her a free pass.

    "Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen's privacy in such an un-American way?"

    "Man, what a winding road she led him down to get all of that out," Abdul-Jabbar writes of Stiviano. "She was like a sexy nanny playing 'pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.' She blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee."

    Video and Article:,0,6400405.story#axzz30YhWoSso

  • In reply to Edward:

    Here's the full Time Magazine article written by Kareem:

  • In reply to Edward:

    Apparently, Sterling is the type of lawyer who got into one of the Judge Milian People's Court disputes over "was it a gift or a loan" when he sued someone to get back a house and had to testify that he paid her $500/hour for various "services" (e.g. here).

    As also noted "He agreed to a $2.76 million settlement that alleged discrimination against African Americans, Latinos and children at apartment buildings he owned."

    One of the sources characterized his legal acumen and hairdo as "Blago."

  • In reply to Edward:

    Due to the apparent one link per comment limit, the Blago reference is here.

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