As a civil-rights lawyer and longtime Clippers season-ticket holder, I believe the time has come to end Donald Sterling's reign of bigotry and racial insensitivity. Martin Luther King said it best: "An injustice to one is an injustice to all."
This is larger than the Los Angeles Clippers. It is about human decency and dignity. It impacts all of us. It is about treating all others as human beings, irrespective of color.
If Sterling's voice on the tapes is confirmed, punishment should be swift. His comment about feeding the black players and giving them a house to live in reminds me more of a keeper taking care of the "animals" at a zoo. Sterling also spoke of black Jews in other countries being treated like dogs!
If I could speak to him, I would say:
But let's not dump this all on Mr. Sterling's doorstep. Over at least the past decade there have been red flags pointing to his racial animus toward blacks, Hispanics, children, women and the elderly. He allegedly has had several mistresses while legally staying married to his wife. What about the nearly $3 million settlement Sterling made with the government in 2009 for failing to rent to blacks, Hispanics and children?
Another red flag? How about disparaging deposition testimony against minorities by Mr. Sterling in a wrongful termination lawsuit based on racial discrimination brought by former GM Elgin Baylor? Weren't these all blatant red flags to the NBA about his character?
Well, billionaire boys will be boys, until they are stopped. The NBA facilitated Sterling's bigotry by taking no action because at the time the Clippers were losers and irrelevant. So discrimination is OK as long as a team is not competitive? Now there is a price tag associated with eradicating racism? In the end, the NBA, as the gatekeeper of bigoted owners, can end this horror and begin the healing process by removing Sterling as owner and removing all of his posse.
Some things will never change, so the NBA must help Mr. Sterling make this change by stripping him of owning a team filled with the same black players and coaches he compares to dogs. The NBA must immediately suspend Sterling based on his vile racial remarks and begin transfer of ownership to an individual (hopefully of color) or group of owners committed to racial equality. The NBA can do this based a "morality" clause likely contained in the Clippers' franchising agreement. Anything short of this punishment is a ratification by the NBA of blatant racism.
I saw a billboard on my way to the CNN studio this morning that read: "LA Clippers, the best show in town." My heart sunk. It should read "the greatest charade in town."
In the meantime, we should not boycott Game 5 Tuesday night against the Warriors. Rather, we should turn out in great numbers to pressure the corporate sponsors of the Clippers to end advertising until Sterling is permanently removed as owner. As longtime Clipper season-ticket holder Billy Crystal tweeted:
He may own the team but they belong to us. Go Clippers!
— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) April 27, 2014
No player or coach will ever want to be associated with a bigoted owner. If the NBA does not permanently strip Sterling of his ownership, the Clippers will disband and never be ours again.
-- Pasadena attorney Brian Claypool specializes in bringing claims on behalf of those whose rights have been violated through police brutality and/or excessive force, racial profiling, improper handling of investigation and sex abuse. He has put down a deposit on next season's Clippers tickets, but will ask for a refund if Sterling isn't removed. Follow him on Twitter @Brian Claypool.
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