Have you ever sat back and watched a violent car crash? Well Donald Sterling’s tirade on CNN’s AC 360 with Anderson Cooper was the equivalent of watching a drunk driver speed down the street out of control and crash head on into a burning building. If the audio tape of Sterling ranting and raving about how he does not want any African Americans attending his games wasn’t bad enough, his interview with Cooper was confirmation that this man is racist, irresponsible, irrational and certainly does not have the mental faculties necessary to run a Pee Wee basketball team, let alone one of Los Angeles’ most valued sports franchises.
It was recently reported that Sterling had made several generous contributions to various local non profits; $43,000 to the NAACP, $55,000 to UNCF and $68,000 to Special Olympics. In total, he has donated approximately 2.3 million dollars to various organizations over the past five years. However, that pales in comparison to the $3.4 million that he paid in one single lawsuit for housing discrimination or the other lawsuits filed against him or other settlements that he paid which never made it into the court room.
Elgin Baylor, the long time general manager of the Clippers, filed a lawsuit alleging race and age discrimination. Baylor ultimately lost the lawsuit on the grounds that no age discrimination had been proven. Donald Sterling’s rant on CNN about Earvin “Magic” Johnson, his continued lack of respect for African Americans and his history of racist behavior confirms to the world, the NBA, Corporate America and society as a whole that there is no place for him.
But we all realize now that the racial discrimination which must have been coming out of Sterling’s office had to have been horrific. To add insult to injury, during the Cooper interview, Sterling decided to question the credibility and acumen of our own Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Sterling asked what Johnson has done for the African American Community. Well to that question Mr. Sterling we say this: Mr. Earvin Johnson, chairman and CEO of Johnson Enterprises has built movie theatres in the African American community during a time when corporations like Sony did not believe that a quality theatre could operate and/or be profitable within the Black community, despite the fact that we are one of the largest populations of movie goers in the world.
Johnson also convinced and proved to Starbucks that not only would African Americans be willing to pay $2.25 and up for a cup of coffee, but that we would take pride of ownership and make those stores some of the most profitable stores in the country. Mr. Johnson believed in our community when few others did. He took these two successful businesses in Los Angeles and replicated the process in African American communities like Detroit, Harlem, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta again and again.
Not only is Mr. Johnson a respected businessman, but his success has opened the doors for other African American business owners and he has shown corporate America that African Americans do and have always had the business acumen to succeed if only given the opportunity. Mr. Johnson is unquestionably one of the most successful African American businessmen in the country, but it is not his business success or his basketball prowess that causes America to love Earvin “Magic” Johnson. It is his honesty, it is the truthfulness and humility by which he speaks and lives his life.
Yes, Mr. Johnson has been diagnosed with HIV (and your attack on him about that fact, may have been worse than the racist bile you spewed out in the tirade to V.). This was not something he tried to hide from the world, he got it, he has had it and he continues to live a quality life in spite of it. But he also gives. He gives his time, his talent and his resources for the betterment of our community and for the betterment of all.
Mr. Earvin Johnson and his wife Cookie Johnson collectively have raised over $29 million dollars towards supporting those with HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS research. He has given and continues to give over $4 million dollars to fund scholarships for not only African American children, but children of all races, creeds and nationalities often without any recognition or fanfare and he certainly has never taken out full page ads in the LA Times or the LA Sentinel or any other publication seeking acknowledgement for his gifts and giving (a claim that you, Mr. Sterling cannot make).
For years Donald T. Sterling has walked around Los Angeles and blighted the Clipper organization and the NBA with his slave master mentality. When one thinks of the slave master, I think of an old white man who treats those around him not as people but only as property. Clearly, Mr. Sterling saw the half Black half Latino V. Steviano as property (very expensive property…..$1.8 million but property just the same) who was to be available to him and him only despite the fact that he is and has been married for over 50 years.
He sees Doc Rivers and all of the Clipper players as his property (he once told Danny Manning during contract negotiations, “that’s a lot of money for a Black Boy”) not as men, not as employees or as partners in the game of basketball who provide entertainment for millions to watch and who afford him the billion dollar lifestyle he lives. One can only think of the plantation owners of the past who gave no care or credit to the workers of the farm (plantation) who plant the seeds, care for the crops, pick the harvest and even sell it at the marketplace for having anything to do with the success of master. Donald T. Sterling has brought to the forefront of the American psyche this brand of thinking. I don’t know if he is the only sports owner who feels this way or thinks like this, but he is the only one who has been caught saying it.
So as African Americans we say thank you. Thank you for bringing what we all believed you were saying in private to the light. And now we can say no thanks and good bye Mr. Sterling and the entire Sterling family. Go back to your plantation, live the rest of your miserable existence all by yourself and let us find a way to move forward but never forgetting that this type of racist thought and behavior lives and grows around us daily whether TMZ broadcasts it or not.
All I can say is hooray for Adam Silver for realizing that the NBA needs to rid itself of Donald Sterling. Hooray for appointing Dick Parson as the new CEO of the Clipper organization and hooray to all of the corporate sponsors who stepped up and pulled your support of this man as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. And like Magic Johnson tweeted, “I wish I didn’t have to talk about Donald Sterling, I wish I could talk about the great basketball going on.”