By C.N. Staff Writer
A scandal charged with racism, bigotry and hate has ensued the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. The L.A. Clipper’s billionaire owner, Donald Sterling has been caught on tape by his former girlfriend making racists comments about African Americans. In the audiotape, which was released to a celebrity news website, TMZ, and sports website, Deadspin. Sterling is heard having a conversation about race with girlfriend V. Stiviano.
In a press conference held on April 29th, three days after the scandal broke nationally, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Sterling would be banned for life and fined $2.5 million for racist comments. “We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views,” Silver said. “They simply have no place in the NBA.” The commissioner said that the league had not fined Sterling in the past for other alleged incidents of racism because the investigations that were actually brought to the NBA never bore fruit.
Silver further said, “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse multi-cultural and multi-ethnic league.” “Accordingly, effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life, from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA. Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices, he may not be present at any Clippers facility, and he may not participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.”
In the audio recording Sterling is heard making racist comments about African Americans to his girlfriend Stiviano, who is alleged to have recorded the conversation without his permission. Sterling tells her, “Don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people and don’t come.”
According to sources close to the investigation, Stiviano has said that the conversation stemmed from pictures she had posted on her Instagram page with former NBA All-Star Magic Johnson. Sterling did not like that she posted photos on her page with African Americans. He is heard on the audio saying that he asked her to take the photos down.
On the audio recording Stiviano and Sterling continue to have a dialogue about race, and then the male voice tells her: “It’s the world. You go to Israel, the blacks are treated like dogs.”
“And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?” Stiviano asks.
“A hundred percent,” he says.
“And is that right?” Stiviano asks.
“It isn’t a question… We don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture, we have to live within that culture.” He adds that he can’t change the culture, but when asked by Stiviano if he can change he says to her, “I don’t want to change.”
Players and fans are increasing the pressure for the National Basketball Association (NBA) to take action against Sterling. Magic Johnson, who was mentioned during the audio recording tweeted “Former and current NBA players are very happy and satisfied with Commissioner Silver’s ruling.” Dallas Maverick’s owner, Mark Cuban tweeted, “I agree 100% with Commissioner Silvers findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling.” Other prominent public figures have also voiced their opinion about the subject. Philanthropist and TV show host Oprah Winfrey told TMZ, “We’re off the plantation. The plantation days are over.” Filmmaker, Spike Lee, who is an advid New York Knicks fan, attended Silver’s press conference after saying earlier that Sterling has “the mentality of a slave master.”
Team sponsors including auto dealer CarMax Inc, Virgin America, State Farm, Kia Motors America, music mogul P. Diddy’s water brand, AQUAHydrate, Red Bull and Yokohama Tire all announced on Monday that they were stepping back from the team. Some advertisers have asked to move their commercials out of the national broadcast of Tuesday’s Clippers playoff game against the Golden State Warriors by TNT, owned by Time Warner Inc, and the local airing on a sports channel owned by 21st Century Fox, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Sterling bought Clippers in 1981 at a time when basketball was far less commercially successful than it is today, and the franchise could now be worth as much as $800 million, estimated Robert Boland, chairman of the sports management department at New York University.
Former NBA all-star and current mayor of Sacramento, Calif., Kevin Johnson, who has repped the player’s association, spoke out after the announcement. “This is a very stark reminder that we still have a lot of work to do. Yes we have an African American president, yes, justice happened in a swift manner … but these events remind all of us that hatred and bigotry are far from over. I hope every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you.”