Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sterling or Stainless?

Donald Sterling is a loser.

How do I know?

I grew up a Clippers fan in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

During the showiest of showtimes for the LA Lakers.

I guess that would make me a loser too.

While most of LA was enjoying Magic, Big Game James and the Captain.

We had Gary Grant, Loy Vaught and Benoit Benjamin.

You know Benoit Benjamin.

The guy who coined the phrase, “there's no use crying over spoiled milk.”

Well with all due respect to my Cubbie Counterparts in Chicago, there was nothing worse than being a Clippers fan.

An organization that had just two winning seasons in 32 years.

A stretch that took me from my freshman year in high school through my DAUGHTER’S freshman year in high school.

Everything this franchise did was wrong.

We couldn’t have made good news if we paid for it.

And there was no way Donald Sterling was going to pay for anything.

For three plus decades Sterling has been the owner of the Clippers – the losingest franchise in the history of losing franchises.

And if Chris Paul didn’t literally fall into our lap a few years ago, that losing would still be happening.

But even with all of my self-inflicted pain for this franchise – and its owner – I am not here to bury Donald Sterling.

I am here to defend him.

Now don’t get me wrong, pretty much everything the man has ever said is wrong.

And certainly indefensible.

Whether it was recorded or not.

But from the second I heard the words LIFETIME SUSPENSION come out of Adam Silver’s mouth, I cried foul.

You can call it a charge or a block or a flagrant 1, whatever that is, but Silver’s hammer was simply a case of premature ejecting.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I understood exactly where Silver was coming from.

Just like the rest of us, he wanted to hang out with the cool kids.

You remember, the guys who sat on the tables in the cafeteria and made fun of the fat kid.

I should know, I was the fat kid.

Well, that’s exactly what Silver did.

He took the easy way out, just to get in with the jocks.

LeBron James.

Magic Johnson.

Even the President praised Silver.

As if he had fixed the Obamacare website.

Now in case you missed any of this debacle, let me recap.

Last Saturday the world first hears an 80-year-old Sterling say some hugely offensive, if not insanely idiotic and what kind of world do you live in type things.

On a tape.

A tape that was recorded in Sterling’s house.

By a girlfriend.

A girlfriend young enough to be a granddaughter.

And through the magic of Memorex, four days later Sterling was banned.

Banned for life.

Pete Rose style.

But what took Baseball six months, took Silver six minutes.

Let me get this straight – in just four days Donald Sterling went from sitting courtside to being shoved outside because of something he said in his house.

With the doors closed.

Sure, the things he said were bad.


But worse than this?

"The blacks in this building, they smell, they're not clean. ... And all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day."

That’s what Sterling was accused under oath of saying…  11 YEARS AGO.

But according to Silver, the lifetime suspension had nothing to do about the past past and everything to do with what the Commish had downloaded four days earlier.

“In meting out this punishment we did not take into account his past behavior.”


Am I really supposed to believe that this was all about what you have done for me lately and not a lifetime achievement award?

Oh that’s right, it’s the NAACP which was giving Sterling the lifetime achievement award.


That’s right, in 2009 Sterling was given the NAACP’s “highest honor”, right before he paid a nearly three million-dollar settlement in a lawsuit where he was accused of…

… wait for it…..

…a lawsuit where he was accused of being a racist.

Only in Hollywood.

But Silver’s chopping list for Sterling wasn’t done there.

In addition to the lifetime ban, he was fining Sterling 2.5 million-dollars AND he was going to figure out a way to force Sterling to sell his team.

Now the punishment sounds pretty harsh at first, but if you really break this down, this is more about the style than the substance.

Let’s start with the lifetime ban.

Sterling is 80.

And he has prostate cancer.

Lifetime ban?

The Clippers have had losing streaks longer than this ban.

How about the fine?

2.5 million-dollars.

Sterling has 1.9 billion.


Now here’s the fun part, trying to make him sell the team.

Good luck with that.

Silver said he needed 75% of the owners to make this happen.

I don’t care if Silver gets 175%, there is a ZERO chance of Sterling selling this team.

And neither would I.
If I were Donald Sterling…..

…well if I was Donald Sterling, I would never have traded Byron Scott to the Lakers in 1983.

…and I wouldn’t have drafted Bo Kimble in 1990.

…or Benoit Benjamin five years before that.

But if I was this week’s version of Donald Sterling, this is what I would do:

I would pull Johnnie Cochran’s body out of the grave, prop him up in the courtroom and sue the NBA for seven TRILLION dollars.

After all, who better to win a rush to judgment case.

Let me get this straight…

I, Donald Sterling, an 80-year old man with cancer (and probably some selective memory loss if you ask me under oath) am being accused of….

  •  saying some racisty things on a tape
  •  a tape that may have been recorded without me realizing it 
  •  in the privacy of my own mansion
  • to my 30-something girlfriend
  • while I’m still married to my wife

You should hear the stuff I’ve said that’s NOT on that tape.

Sure, the tape implies that I don’t like black people.

Even though I made sure that I said several times on the tape that I really do like black people.

Just in case it was being recorded.

And even though I employed a black general manager for 22 years.

Who sued me for claiming I fired him for being black.

And not for losing 65% of our games during those 22 years.

And even though last year I fired a white coach to make a black coach the highest paid coach in the NBA.

And even though I pay my black point guard more than any point guard in the NBA.

Black or white.

Or my favorite color.


Adam Silver said he was “distraught” by this entire situation.

I call it Tuesday.

Now that the entire world knows my name, it’s 
only a matter of time before I say some REALLY stupid things that will eventually finish me.

But until then….. I love this game.

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