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Donald Sterling’s Big City Bigotry

Out in the sticks somewhere in Nevada, rancher Cliven Bundy is breathing a massive sigh of relief. It’s not that often that you get out-bigoted in a span of three days, but that’s exactly what happened Saturday. In this week’s edition of Racists Caught on Tape, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling managed to knock Bundy out of the news cycle with his own brand of sheer, unabashed racism—recorded in a phone call to his mistress—V. Stiviano.  

The released recordings allegedly contain Sterling channeling his inner Jim Crow, spouting off hateful rhetoric about Stiviano ‘associating with black people’ and demanding that she refrain from bringing them to Clippers games or broadcasting photos—the ones in question containing Magic Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp—on her Instagram. 

He then proceeds to go on a doddering rant about cultural perceptions and the implications of associating with minorities, the ‘problems’ that certain races have with others—even going as far to expound on the ‘differences’ between black and white Jews. 

The sound you hear is me repeatedly bashing my head against the keyboard and screaming to the heavens. It is abhorrent enough to even maintain this worldview, but an owner of an NBA franchise espousing this nonsense—a league comprised of over 75% minorities—seems absolutely unreal. There’s something to be said about the generational divide in beliefs that still exists in America—Sterling is 80 years old—but circumstantially, this entire scenario is difficult to comprehend. 

The Clippers players have now been forced into an unfortunate and unenviable position: fighting to stay alive in the playoffs for themselves and their fan-base, but cashing checks issued by a man who holds these repulsive beliefs. As walking off the court or refusing to play isn’t a feasible option—they are players under contract, and punishing their fans for their awful owner would be unfortunate—the Clippers staged their own silent protest on Sunday: removing their warm-up jerseys and tossing them on center-court in solidarity, and wearing their shirts inside-out.

The NBA and the ownership brass are now faced with an important decision: do they remove Donald Sterling from his role as owner—if they even have the legal recourse to do so—and if they don’t, what will be the impact on the Clippers and the National Basketball Association as a whole?

With the firestorm ignited by Sterling’s comments and the widespread condemnation of this man and his beliefs from all corners of society, it is abundantly clear that something has to be done, because allowing an individual that feels this way to maintain an ownership position sends an abysmal message, and tarnishes the league’s reputation entirely.

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