Apparently, Donald Sterling, until recently the “soon-to-be former owner” of the L.A. Clippers, will not be taking his billion dollars and going quietly into the night. He may not be going anywhere.
A few days ago, Sterling’s attorneys advised the NBA that he will not be paying the $2.5 million fine levied by Commissioner Adam Silver and he will likely file a lawsuit to reverse his lifetime ban. Instead of weeks to resolve, this could take years. Isn’t that just lovely?
Interestingly, Sterling, perhaps the most loathed man in America, has ties to Santa Monica. In 1979, he bought 11 apartment complexes here from, of all people, Jerry Buss. (To help Buss with the down payment to buy the Lakers.)
Two years later, Buss encouraged Sterling to buy the San Diego Clippers whom he soon moved to L.A. Thus Sterling is the longest tenured NBA owner at 33 troubled years. But nothing matches the idiocy of his ill-fated CNN appearance with Anderson Cooper on “AC 360” last week during Sterling’s “apology tour.”
Sure enough he began by apologizing for his “horrendous mistakes.” Frankly, as he shed crocodile tears, his whiny, overly-contrite voice was downright annoying. If for no other reason than it was fake. This was revealed after Cooper’s next question, “Do you trust anyone now?”
Sterling said the only person he had chatted with about his racist comments was Magic Johnson with whom he spoke twice. And then began Sterling’s infamous melt down during which he might as well have been wearing a KKK sheet. “What has Magic done for his community?” Sterling asked suddenly, accusatorily.
Sterling was just getting going. “He has AIDS!” he barked. (Bigoted and stupid, Sterling didn’t know the difference between AIDS and HIV.)
“He slept with women all over the country,” Sterling continued, “I don’t think he’s a role model for our children.” Brilliant. In attempting to apologize, Sterling attacks the most popular person in all of Los Angeles, Magic Johnson. What’s next? At Christmas he’ll blast Santa?
Up until this revealing moment such disparate figures as conservative radio talk-show host, Dennis Prager, famed writer Joyce Carol Oates and even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, had expressed that, given the original tapes were recorded without his knowledge, Sterling had been unfairly stripped of his privacy. But that night on “AC 360” Sterling essentially told the entire world that he was more of a racist than we ever thought. Picture Cliven Bundy but with money.
The truth, of course, is Sterling has a long history of bad deeds. Labeled the “Slumlord Billionaire,” he settled racial discrimination lawsuits going back to 2005. In one he shelled out millions to settle a suit charging that he tried to drive Korean residents out of apartments he owned, in of all places, in L.A.’s Korea town. (In Korea town, who did he want in their stead?)
In 2009, Sterling paid $2.7 million to settle a Department of Justice lawsuit, at the time the highest fine in history, charging he had discriminated against blacks, Latinos and families with children. (Apparently Sterling was an equal opportunity offender.)
Then, inexplicably, Sterling suggested that Jews help “our community” more than blacks. It appeared that he was searching for the proverb, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Instead, Sterling blurted that Jews lend less fortunate Jews money (at no interest, mind you) for things like “a fishing pole.” Did he say “fishing pole?”
I suddenly had the image of traditional Jewish parents encouraging their children to, “Be a doctor, lawyer, CPA, or … a fisherman?” Comedian Albert Brooks tweeted, “Donald, for the sake of all humanity, STOP TALKING!”
The truth is there’s plenty of blame to go around. How did a blatant racist like Sterling actually receive an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award? (He was about to receive another when the tapes aired.) Why did former commissioner, David Stern, void the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers and instead send him to the Clippers owned by Sterling with such a checkered past?
Furthermore, how could the seemingly classy Jerry Buss have ever been friends with crude Donald Sterling? And, as it was a ratings bonanza, how many more shows might Anderson Cooper milk out of all of this?
To be honest, after lambasting Sterling, I’m kind of worried. I mean, he’s a billionaire, after all and obviously likes real estate in Santa Monica. What if after reading this he winds up owning The Shores? What will become of me? Being Jewish, maybe I’ll just ask him for a loan so I can buy a fishing pole.
For hopeful Laker fans tomorrow is the NBA Draft Lottery. If he’s not too busy crossing his fingers, Jack can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or firstname.lastname@example.org.