Controversy surrounding the private telephone conversation between Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, and his girlfriend is the biggest story of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
Sterling is not going to sell the Clippers, at least not without a fight. His overtly racist remarks were inappropriate, offensive and he needed to be dealt with. It is in the best interests of the NBA to get rid of Sterling. However, despite pressure from the league, Sterling honestly believes he did nothing to deserve such severe punishment.
In an interview with CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, Sterling revealed he really is racist. Instead of the interview portraying a man sorry for his actions, it turned into an attack on Magic Johnson. Sterling repeatedly asked what Johnson does for “the black people”. Such statements do not come from a man who is sincerely sorry for what he said about Johnson and African Americans. Just as he disrespected Johnson and did not recognize the NBA’s sanctions, Sterling will also refuse to sell the Clippers even in light of mounting pressure from the public.
This is not the first time Sterling has been accused of having racist tendencies. In 2009, former general manager of the Clippers, Elgin Baylor, sued Sterling for wrongful termination and accused him of having a “plantation mentality”. Sterling recently hired the same antitrust lawyer who led him to a settlement when the NBA sanctioned him for moving the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles without the their permission. The NBA was not successful in reprimanding Sterling for his actions before and will be unsuccessful now.
The NBA is a league of some four hundred players, largely African American, and strives to represent inclusiveness. This most recent Donald Sterling outburst is a bad mark on their image. Real decisions will not come from public opinions of Sterling, but what happens to their bottom line if Sterling keeps his owner status. It would be right for Sterling to sell the team to avoid possible boycotts and court battles but that won’t happen. Sterling is a businessman and to him, this is just another case he is going to come out on top.