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Racisim is Alive but Not Well

We certainly did not need Donald Sterling to remind us that racism is still alive and not very well but the recent comments made by the  pro basketball team owner has brought the issue front and center. 

Los Angeles Clippers players sit on the bench wearing their warm-up tops inside out against the Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers players sit on the bench wearing their warm-up tops inside out against the Golden State Warriors (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

For those that don’t know Sterling is a former attorney and business magnate who is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA, having owned the Los Angeles Clippers since 1981. During that time he has proved to be among the worst owners in the history of pro sports with the Clippers only being competitive in recent years after decades as the poor stepsister to LA’s other team, the Lakers.

Sterling, who owns a considerable amount of real estate, has been sued for housing discrimination for trying to avoid renting to blacks, Hispanics and Koreans. He was also sued by a former team executive for employment discrimination based on age and race. Sweet guy isn’t he?

That all pales in comparison to the story that broke over the weekend when TMZ released what is said to be an audio recording of a conversation between Sterling and his now former girlfriend. The two got into an argument because she posted a picture of herself and Magic Johnson on Instagram and he can be heard on the tape saying “it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” There was much more but you get the idea.

The comments were those you would more likely attribute to past generations below the Mason-Dixon Line. Unfortunately I am sure Sterling is not alone in his thoughts and frankly 80-year old billionaires are probably not too concerned about what others think.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr
Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

However in a sport in which three of every four players are black Sterling’s racist words sting and he can’t take them back. This is not going away with an apology or by insisting the words were taken out of context. The Clippers, who are engaged in a tough playoff series with Golden State are obviously bothered by what their owner said but will likely keep playing.

Meanwhile new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will hold a news conference today and likely announce some combination of fines, suspension and sanctions.  What most want is Sterling forced to sell the team but it appears the majority of the NBA owners would need to implement that action and while it’s the right thing to do they will likely only do so if they fear negative financial repercussions.

So in the end it will come down to money which is pretty much how the whole world operates.

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