On Monday, June 9 ESPN reported that embattled current Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was withdrawing his consent to the sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and would proceed with his lawsuit against the NBA. Sterling had agreed to the sale the previous week and the scandal resulting from a recording of racist remarks made by Sterling appeared to be over. This latest chapter will probably not affect the sale since the sale agreement indemnifies the NBA from lawsuits filed by Sterling. Regardless I’m sick of this mess, Sterling has been banned from the league for life so why do we have to keep hearing about him? However the scandal has pervaded the headlines for so long I have to ask myself what have we learned from all of this? After much though I have come up with five take aways from this mess.
- There is no such thing as privacy anymore: This whole scandal began because V. Stiviano released a recording she made of Sterling’s racist remarks he made in an argument with her after she posted a picture of herself and Magic Johnson at a Clippers game on Instagram. While I am no way defending Sterling’s remarks, I still feel this was an invasion of privacy. These remarks were made in the context of an argument between two people, I’m sure Sterling had no knowledge that he was being recorded and never intended for anyone but Stiviano to hear him. This sets a dangerous precedent, apparently what we say to another person is apparently no longer intended only for their ears, so be careful.
- Donald Sterling is an ignorant racist who does not know how to apologize: After the tape was released the public learned of Sterling’s long history of racism. Sterling has been the subject of many discrimination suits because he has tried to keep African American’s out of his buildings. As a team owner he has displayed racist behavior not wanting African American’s to attend Clipper’s games and bringing women into the locker room while players were showering instructing them to, “Look at those beautiful black bodies”. When Sterling attempted to apologize for his remarks on the tape by appearing on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show but he made matters worse for himself stating, “When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that…I don’t know why the girl had me say those things.” He went on to criticize Magic Johnson for having AIDS saying he should fade into the background because he is not a good role model and gives nothing back to his community. All this so called apology proves is he does not know how to take responsibility for his own actions blaming V. Stiviano for his statements. In addition Sterling demonstrated how ignorant he is, Johnson has HIV not AIDS and gives plenty back to his community through his foundation. From his history it is clear Sterling is an ignorant racist and should take his own advice and fade into the background.
- Scandal can really increase the value of a team: Steve Ballmer will purchase the Clippers for $2 billion an amazing cost increase from Sterling’s purchase price of $12.5 million in 1981. True inflation plays a part but before the scandal the value of the team was nowhere near its selling price. The Clippers have never won a championship and until a couple of years ago were not even contenders. However, once the scandal broke and everyone wanted to buy the team the value increased. Other teams around the league of greater value than the Clippers should thank Sterling for this mess because the value of their teams have increased overnight. The New York Daily News reports that as a result of the Clippers sale the New York Knicks doubled in value from $1.4 billion to $3 billion. In the end this scandal will wind up bringing more money to the NBA, not a bad outcome.
- Shelly Sterling got cheated: When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the lifetime ban for Donald Sterling he stated, “This ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling’s conduct only.” This meant that Donald’s estranged wife Shelly Sterling, part owner of the team, should not be affected. At first the NBA supported Shelly’s continued involvement with the team allowing her to attend playoff games, but when she expressed a desire to remain involved with the management of the team the NBA began to build a case against her. They released a report stating that Shelly and Donald were not estranged, implying that if Shelly were allowed to remain involved in the team Donald would be involved as well. Knowing she had no chance of prevailing Shelly took her best option. She got authorization from Donald to sell the team, selected a buyer, Ballmer, who will allow her to remain with the team in some capacity. It is a shame Shelly had to do this. Although Shelly has been named in discrimination suits along with her husband there is very little evidence that she herself is a racist. Shelly helped build the team and it would have been great to see a women in a leadership role in an NBA team. I’m sure this prospect scared the league which is why they forced her out.
- The NBA should thank TMZ: Entertainment website TMZ.com first released the Sterling recording giving the NBA the grounds to oust him. TMZ also released the information that doctors found Sterling to be in the early stages of dementia, which the league was going to use as further grounds for removing Sterling at an owners meeting on June 5th. The meeting that was canceled when the sale was announced. TMZ has built the NBA’s case for them, who knew an entertainment website had such power.
The Donald Sterling scandal has occupied headlines for over a month so it is hard to not focus on it. I think the most productive way to handle all the information is to learn something from it. These are my top five lessons learned from the whole mess, who knows by the time this all over I may have five more but for now this is what I have learned.