If The Clippers and Their Fans Want To Really Make a Statement, They Should All Sit Out Game 5.

Featured, Sports and Bets — April 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm by

Question:  Is basketball more important than making a real statement against racism?

You’ve heard the tape.  L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was allegedly and purportedly recorded by his mistress making several blatantly racist remarks in regards to her hanging out with black people and in regards to her posting Instagram pictures of herself and Magic Johnson.  I guess Sterling didn’t realize that his mistress herself was part African-American, or that he himself, as an NBA owner, was a part of a business that is dominated by African-American people (the league is roughly 80% black) and culture.

Whether Sterling realized these things or not, it didn’t matter, he didn’t want his side piece hanging out with black dudes.  He didn’t want her bringing her black friends to his games, and he didn’t want her posting pictures of herself hanging out with famous black people online.  This all became quite obvious in his jealous ramblings to his much younger lover. What also became obvious in this recording is that Donald Sterling is quite racist.

Racism is everywhere and it exist in every ethnic group and sub culture in America.  So when stuff like this comes out I’m not surprised, especially when it comes out of the mouth of someone with the background of Donald Sterling, who has had a few public slip ups in regards to racial issues, and who has been sued a couple of times in race related lawsuits;  lawsuits which were conveniently settled out of court.  Sterling’s views and attitudes had been gently swept under the rug or shrugged off up until now, hell, he even has a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP and was scheduled to get another one next month.  But why was this the case?  Maybe Sterling was viewed as a loveable old man who had “real old school” views or maybe Sterling’s attitudes were ignored because he did do a lot for black youth via charity, or maybe he was thought of as a guy who was nice to black people on a personal level, but struggled to get past the old world he grew up in.  Or maybe nobody said shit because Donald Sterling and his basketball enterprise made so many people so much damn money. I, obviously, don’t know how people, black or white, thought of Donald Sterling, but now that this tape has been released, it’s pretty evident that deep down inside he’s not a good guy.  It’s also evident that a vast majority of people believe he needs to step down or be forced out.

This is a nightmare for the NBA.  Obviously the league offices would love to simply force Sterling out, but there’s no legal way for the NBA offices to do so.  The league can fine and suspend Sterling, but they can’t take his team from him.  They can’t force his hand to sell, but the fans and the players and coaches of the NBA can.

The Clippers staged a protest by turning their practice jerseys inside out, and by wearing black socks and armbands.  The fans (keep in mind the game was at Golden State) did nothing.  Social Media and television has exploded with comments from famous athletes, celebrities, and TV personalities condemning Sterling and his recorded comments.  “Sterling has to go”, everyone says.  “The NBA needs to do something!”, the media screams.

All of this is well intended and the proper thing to do, but it is also meaningless.  Doing all this is simply talking loud and really saying nothing.  None of this hurts Donald Sterling or his standing as Clipper owner. Players, coaches, celebrities and normal everyday fans missed the boat in regards to taking a real stand against Donald Sterling.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t regroup and do something during Game 5. Game 5 is an opportunity for people to do something real.  Something big and something that is bigger than basketball.  The players and coaches should refuse to play the game Tuesday night in L.A. and the fans should refuse to go.  It doesn’t matter that the Clippers are fighting for a title and it doesn’t matter that the NBA playoffs will be disrupted.  Basketball is just a game.  This moment is bigger than a game.  This is an opportunity to make a real social and cultural statement.  A statement in which the players and the fans refuse to give Donald Sterling another dime.  A statement which would force the NBA’s hand.

The players don’t play for the owner.  The fans don’t root for the owner.  I understand that.  But this particular owner feels that the people he employs and that a lot of people who root for his team and give him money to do so are inferior human beings.  Why would anyone want to work for this man or give this man their money?  Piling up jerseys in the center of the court does nothing.  Saying “it’s about the game” says nothing.  Going to the game to “just root for the team and not Sterling” is naïve.  Sterling still gets every dime from every beer sold and for every ass that decides to sit in his seats.  If the game goes on, old racist Donald still gets his cash.

But if the games stop, if real noise is made, then maybe Sterling will get the message.  If the games stop, then the playoffs stop, and then some money stops.  Then the NBA could be forced to play the games somewhere beside Staples center.  Sterling would have to step down and he would have to sell the team at some point if nobody played for him or if nobody came to the games.   Sterling said to his mistress in the recording, “Who makes the game?”  By staying away the people could show him that the players and the fans do.

I guarantee the players, the coaches, and the fans who played, coached and went to Game 4 and who decide to play, coach, and go to Game 5 will look back on their lives one day and regret doing so.  This was a chance to make a real statement in their lives, to stand up to a person with authority and influence and to tell him that he’s wrong.

It would be ugly to sit out Game 5.  It would be a tough thing to have to do.  But the right thing is sometimes the toughest thing to do.  Racism is tough to deal with.  Continuing to play for and continuing to get paid by a racist does not change that racist or the society he lives in, it ignores it.  Not playing for him, or as a fan, not going to his games, makes a statement that can change the society that Donald Sterling represents.

A basketball game or a championship trophy is not more important that.



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