A secretly taped conversation between long-time L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his then-girlfriend was released. The NBA has now banned Sterling from the league. The commissioner recommends that Sterling sell his team.
Goodness, what happened?
The old guy had a quarrel with his girlfriend, which she apparently -- surreptitiously -- recorded. The most eye-raising parts have to do with Sterling, 80, telling his less-than-half-his-age girlfriend that he doesn't want her attending games with black people, specifically with Magic Johnson. She can "f--k" anybody, he said, just don't bring "them" to the games.
His reasons appear to be that his girlfriend, who describes herself as black and Mexican, would look -- to others -- more white if she sat next to white people. I guess. I really don't know. He probably doesn't.
Despite his obvious anger, Sterling never says the "n" word, let alone calls her a "c" word. He expresses admiration for Johnson. He says to the girlfriend, almost in disbelief, "You think I'm a racist!" The now ex-girlfriend is currently being sued by the Sterling family for allegedly embezzling almost $2 million.
The tape released contains some 15 minutes, although reportedly there are many more hours. He sounds jealous and insecure -- an old guy asking his girl not to make him into a bigger, behind-the-back joke than he already is. She sounds shallow and manipulative, clearly trying to get him to say some really bad stuff to retain what she has -- or to cash in for more.
For this Jerry Springer stuff, Sterling is deemed unfit to own a team?!
Move over Cliven Bundy, who moved over George Zimmerman. Meet America's Next New Great White Defendant (the Tom Wolfe term from "Bonfire of the Vanities"). He can be savaged in the media. No special interest group is going to come forth and defend a white male. This time it's Donald Sterling.
This "racist" hired an expensive, championship-winning black coach, who happens to be married to a white woman. He pays his black starting point guard $18 million annually. His payroll is the sixth most expensive out of 30 teams. Oh, and the "racist's" girlfriend is a black Latina.
If Sterling is unfit to own a team now that he's expressed racial animosity, what about superfan Spike Lee's racial animosity? Should Lee be banned from games? A courtside fixture at Knicks games, Lee once said he dislikes interracial couples: "I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street." Should the NBA investigate the suitability of an expressed hater of interracial couples to have such a prominent perch at the Garden?
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