Donald Sterling's Racist Comments Reverberate Across the NBA and Beyond

Monday, April 28, 2014

Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, sits next to his girlfriend V. Stiviano (R) during the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 19, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The NBA is dealing with the fallout of some harsh news—over the weekend, TMZ released audio of Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling reportedly making a myriad of racist remarks to his girlfriend.

The audio reveals a man purported to be Sterling chiding his girlfriend for appearing in public with black people and bringing them to "his games." Specifically, Sterling was referring to a picture taken of his girlfriend with hall of famer Magic Johnson, who quickly responded to the tape with understandable disgust on Twitter.

The comments have reverberated around the league and beyond. The Clippers are currently in the playoffs and, despite calls from folks like Keith Olbermann and Jesse Jackson for the team to boycott, players took to the court last night for a match up against Golden State—a game they lost by a wide margin.

Though the team took to the court, players responded to the comments by turning their warmup jerseys inside-out. Clippers Coach and President Doc Rivers has said that the NBA must investigate and take action.

President Barack Obama has also weighed in on the controversy. When asked about the comments at a news conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Sunday, President Obama denounced the Sterling's rhetoric, saying the remarks were "incredibly offensive."

"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That's what happened here," the President said.

Weighing in on how the league may respond is Sports Commentator Ibrahim Abdul Matin.

What do you think of the situation? Vote in our poll below.




Ibrahim Abdul-Matin

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Comments [5]

eileen kerry from Portland, Oregon

Ironically, and amazingly, racist statements have become bolder and more offensive since the election of our first African American President. And as these statements are pumped by the media, we have good and not-so-good results. We can always benefit from increased, thoughtful dialogue, resulting in shutting down the offenders, limiting their power to spread hate. But we also must be careful not to mimic the bigots by going about it the wrong way, and in doing so defeat our cause. This isn't about a surreptitiously recorded phone call; it's about the ugly head of racism raised again and again, with surface reactions that don't cut it off.

Bigotry—of all kinds—in sports is horrible to observe, and lately fans and the public have been quick to condemn it and the people behind it. I'm hopeful that reactions can be channeled into established, legal and effective processes that underscore the power of systems that are in place. Sports is a universe unto itself, with governing leagues and rules/regs that are unknown to most on the outside. I hope dialogue regarding the Clippers' situation makes us more aware of the ruling power structure, so that the public may zero in on the correct and most effective ways to get rid of harmful persons and influences. Let's use this time to learn what we can do to take the wind and influence away from those whose lack of humanity and decency spoils sports for everyone. Whether it's about money or ignorance, let's fight back wisely.

Apr. 29 2014 12:31 PM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

I think the super-corporations are using the Southern plantation as a model to build a planetary corporate plantation, a pervasive Corporate Happy Space in which basic human and civil rights are gradually disappeared, in which a tiny minority controls the dumbed-down masses, the ethnic and so-called racial aspects being entirely irrelevant. Mr. Sterling's plain old racism seems from this perspective to be limited and pathetic.

Apr. 28 2014 12:32 PM
anne sweeney from 01960

I don't know what to make of this, Donald Sterling is a black man calling a black man, black. It was wrong but, so what. Bundy is a red-neck calling the family aspects of slavery as good. He's not a racist, just not the sharpest tool in the shed. He also noted that Hispanics were family types. This guy has many misconceptions as do most Americans of all stripes. Bill Cosby speaks publicly about Black People, writing, rapping, and singing about American black culture using the "N" word. I guess what's good for the goose is not good for the gander.
After all, I am a woman, but despite Hillary Clinton traveling throughout the Muslim world and embracing Islam, she continues to avoid the issues surrounding, "The Female Mutilation of Women as, OK", so if NPR,WGBH,WBUR or Diane Rheme treated all things as equal, then, "all" of these issues would be addressed. Cherry picking hot points makes, "news" but does not get at the truth or underlying issues.
Jim Braude, Diane Rheme, Calley Crosslie, Emily Rooney, or the Beat the Press Crew, are as bad as, "the five" on Fox. All beating to your same drum. It's sickening. Jim Braude should go on Bill O'Reilly, now that's a show I would watch, that is if Jim could get into his, "Big Boy" pants.
Better yet, Chris Mathews should invite Bill O'Reiley on his show. Let's all get together and attack some real issues, with some real dialogue folks. Real people are suffering out there, despite the weak recovery in our economy.
My parents don't even know where to put their retirement money they saved, because our sick economy has no where to put it. We tell our young people to save, but the value of the dollar is cut in half, if we save it. The incentive in America by the FED and this administration is to borrow and spend.
Think of some real issues, man, Buy a shotgun, Buy a shotgun, because that's what you are doing now. Pointing a Shotgun in the air, with the hopes that some ducks will fly by ?

Apr. 28 2014 12:24 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Don Sterling's racist remarks could become the foundation of a new Tarantino sequel to "Django Unchained."

Apr. 28 2014 11:33 AM

Thanks for sharing your insights Ibrahim!

Apr. 28 2014 09:40 AM

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