On Donald Sterling

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

By: Connor Lenahan

Over the weekend TMZ published a recording of a conversation between Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend in which he makes numerous racist comments. An argument between the two spurred from an Instagram picture the girlfriend had taken with Magic Johnson, only one of the most respected men on the planet. Sterling took offense to his girlfriend’s picture and yelled at her repeatedly for fraternizing with African-Americans.

Some choice quotes from the recording TMZ posted and the extended version obtained by Deadspin a day later:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.”

“But why publicize it on the Instagram and why bring it to my games?”

“I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?”

“Well then, if you don’t feel—don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.

You can sleep with [African-Americans]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”

“…Don’t put him [Magic Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.  And don’t bring him to my games.”

Now, the issue at hand is not debating whether or not Donald Sterling is a racist. He is. There’s no need to discuss that point further. What happens next is what matters.

Tomorrow at 2PM NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will hold a press conference to discuss the findings of the league’s investigation into Sterling. Kevin Johnson, who is serving as the head of the NBA Players Association while normal president and (ironically) current Clippers point guard Chris Paul plays in a first round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, outlined the wishes of the players around the league. Superstars like LeBron James made note of their disapproval of Sterling publicly. Michael Jordan spoke both as an owner and former player about his anger towards Sterling.

Sterling’s own players silently protested on Sunday by wearing as little of the team logo as possible without breaking the NBA uniform rules.

Since the report came out many, including myself, have come to the same conclusion: Donald Sterling cannot be a part of the NBA anymore..

For three years now, basketball has been a central part of my life. From announcing in high school, to announcing in college, to being adopted by the Boston University mens players as part of their family, I have been surrounded by basketball. Further, I have been a fan of the NBA for a long, long time. Never once in my life have I felt the level of outrage I did this past weekend tied to a story from any level of basketball.

This goes further than a simple on court issue for me. Admittedly my basketball fandom has shone a brighter light on this story in particular than some others, however, it does not change my opinion at all. Since moving to Boston last August I have had the joy of befriending hundreds of Boston University students. Many of those I deem my closest friends on Commonwealth Avenue are of African-American heritage. These are people that I love with my entire heart. People I would take a bullet for. People I want to see accomplish every last dream they will ever have in this world. What infuriates me at a personal level is that there are people connected to a sport I love so dearly that are not on the same page. Donald Sterling does not think equally of African-Americans with regards to caucasians. This is a man who owns one of the best teams in professional basketball. This team’s success comes because of their head coach, Doc Rivers, and three best players, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, all of whom are African-American. I cannot stand the fact that there are people remaining in this world who discriminate on the basis of race, especially in a world that I have seen bring together people of separate backgrounds closer than any other.

The fact that Donald Sterling is the kind of man who does not want to see my friends or my brothers succeed is sickening. I stand with Johnson, James, Jordan, The Clippers, and everyone else speaking out against Sterling the past few days. He does not belong in this league. I do not know how we collectively as a society can go about making sure he is removed from office, but I’m of the belief that Adam Silver knows and will do so tomorrow.

There’s no place for racism in the NBA. There’s no place for racism period. We cannot, and will not, tolerate people like Donald Sterling. The sooner he’s gone, the better. There’s a talented team, a contender, that needs it’s focus back.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism. He can be contacted at lenahan@bu.edu