On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver imposed a lifetime ban on Donald Sterling, who still owns the Los Angeles Clippers though not, perhaps, for long. With the support of three-quarters of Donald Sterling’s colleagues, Commissioner Silver could force the sale of the Clippers.
“I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him,” Silver said.
That process began with a meeting on Thursday and will continue next week.
Donald Sterling’s trespasses have been multiple. He’s built a disgraceful history as a landlord who allegedly discriminated against and insulted minority tenants. He’s been an embarrassment to the NBA for much of the three decades during which he’s owned the Clippers. But this time, when his racist comments regarding blacks in general and Magic Johnson in particular were recorded for all the world to hear, corporate sponsors began bailing out on the Clippers. It was no surprise that one of the questions Commissioner Silver faced on Tuesday had to do with present and potential lost revenues.
“I’m hopeful there will be no long-term damage to the league and to the Clippers organization,” Silver said. “But as I said earlier, I’m outraged, so I certainly understand other people’s outrage.”
Or other corporations’ outrage, or both.
Anyway, among the individuals dismayed when Donald Sterling told his then-girlfriend not to bring Magic Johnson to Clippers games and to refrain from showing her selfies with black people to the world, lots of Clippers fans were also dismayed. Najee Ali of the National Action Network helped organize a rally against Sterling on Tuesday before Game 5 of the Clippers playoff series against the Warriors at LA’s Staples Center urging Sterling’s ouster.
“When I first heard the statements he made on tape, I was outraged and shocked,” Ali said. “And I just think for me, listening to it, he reminded me more of a plantation owner than an NBA owner.”
Paul Delhomme was among those attending the rally on Tuesday evening. He wore a red, sleeveless Clippers jersey to demonstrate his on-going support of the team. He has no doubt that Donald Sterling’s days as an NBA owner are over, for the simplest of reasons.
“Obviously the guy’s about money,” Delhomme said. “There is none left for him after this, so he’s at a dead-end, so he’s gonna have to give up the team. So it’s perfect.”
Sale of the team is likely to provide Donald Sterling with a profit of about half-a-billion dollars on his initial investment.Speculation about who might next own the Clippers has been nothing if not entertaining.
At Tuesday’s rally, long-time Clippers fan Arlene Shelby, resplendent in a red L.A. jersey, proposed a revolutionary plan for the team.
“I would love to be able to invest in it — $1,000 –- and be part of the Clipper team,” Shelby said. “That would be gorgeous. Because this is LA, and that would be great. It would be one way the fans and the people could feel part of it. Now I could dig that.”
Late this week it was reported that the embattled Donald Sterling had been diagnosed with prostate cancer some time ago. Clippers forward Blake Griffin was among the players expressing his dismay at that news. “If that is true, my thoughts and prayers are with him,” Griffin said. “Nobody deserves to go through something like that.”