I don’t know about you but almost the instant I heard the story of Donald Sterling, billionaire Basketball team owner, slumlord, adulterer, and racist, I knew what was going to happen. And, it did….donald-sterling-gallery-gty-2

How did this person go from well-known philanthropist and multiple recipient of NAACP awards to the new Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?

It’s simple, it’s called hypocrisy.

This person is known around LA for his well-publized comments about the tenants in his slums, typically lower income African-American and Hispanic folks. He was sued in 2006 and 2009 for discriminatory rental practices by the US Department of Justice. He also was known to say some bad things about African-Americans and Hispanics. He settled the suit for $2.73 Million fine as well as $5 Million in attorney’s fees and court costs. But he never had to admit guilt but was admonished by the judge for “unacceptable and sometimes outrageous conduct.”

So, it was a known fact that this guy was a poor owner of the LA Clippers, a racist and an all-around bad guy well in advance of the now-infamous tape. But, no one moved to do anything about it and many charities in the LA area gladly took his money, named buildings and events for him and honored him, as did the NAACP. Why did no one act then?

Money, that’s why. Money, power, and influence.

In reality, this is an old, stupid guy with too much money. The guy, who more than 80 years old and married for almost 60 years, has a girlfriend more than ½ his age whom he lavished with almost $2 million in gifts including cars and a condo. The wife got mad he is spending community property on the “other woman” and then sues her. The taped phone conversation appears to be revenge for the lawsuit.

In the taped phone call, Sterling says a lot of really dumb stuff, being egged on and prompted by the girlfriend. But, while some may finding it a bit appalling, he is referencing all the talk toward his girlfriend and what he wants her not to do. He doesn’t really say anything outwardly racist about people, only about her association with them. It is more a fit of jealousy than racist talk.

Nevertheless, the NBA and other groups seized on the moment to explode in righteous indignation toward Sterling and his talk about blacks and others to his girlfriend. It always makes me wonder who could pass the test of having his or her private conversations taped and then played for the world, especially being guided by someone with an apparent ulterior motive.

So, the relatively new NBA commissioner wants to demonstrate his disgust toward Sterling and in a show of force bans him from the NBA for life and plots a course to force him to sell the team. If he does sell, it will be at a huge profit of close to a Billion Dollars!

The cries of “crucify” him were heard around the politically correct universe, including the President of the United States. When asked why the NBA didn’t act sooner, the Commissioner, Adam Silver just said, “well, we acted now.”

That seemed to mollify most of the mob gathered on the courtyard, but strangely, a few have come out with differing perspectives.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, star player with the LA Lakers wrote a compelling piece on Time.com where he states:

“What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise. Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All the other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That’s the smoking gun?

And,

“So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.”

That’s the rub, really. There is real racism going on all around us and it is ignored from the brief moments of action around stupid people doing and saying stupid stuff.

The other real compelling comments come from Bomani Jones of ESPN. In 2006, he wrote an article entitled “Sterling’s Racism Should Be News” where he calls out the real racism practiced by Sterling in his comments and housing discrimination lawsuit. As we know, nothing was done by the NBA at that point.

But, Jones also did an interview on Dan Le Batard’s Miami radio show. He calls out the NBA and others for latching on to this scandal while ignoring all the others.

Listen to it Here:

 

Finally, there are two points I want to make about this:

  1. Racism is still prevalent in our society. But, it’s not about what rich people say behind closed doors. In fact, it is not about what people say; it’s what they do and how they act. It’s about jobs, education, housing, crime and punishment and lack of opportunity for minorities to succeed in this country. It’s about gun violence, gangs, domestic abuse, fatherless homes, drugs and more. These areas of our society need to be addressed for racism to go away. Luckily, younger people have a different attitude toward minorities than their parents and grandparents, so likely the problems will be resolved by them.
  2. We have to stop giving a free pass to those who have money, power, and influence who do bad things. Whether it is professional sports, entertainment, politics, or people with a lot of money, they need to be held accountable for their misdeeds the same as the rest of us. Do you think that someone like Chris Brown would have gotten so many chances if he were a poor kid from Detroit? Or do you think former NBA player, Sean Banks would have gotten no prison time for his domestic violence charges if he were an ordinary person from New Jersey? Probably not on both counts. It’s time to put an end to this preferential treatment.

How do you feel this Sterling situation was handled?