Clippers Owner Goes on Racist Rant

If you thought Cliven Bundy’s racist tirade was bad, wait till you hear this one from Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA. It’s a recording of a conversation with his girlfriend in which he berates her for putting up a picture of herself with Magic Johnson.

Why are you taking pictures with minorities?” he demanded in the recorded conversation. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”

“You can sleep with [black people],” Sterling said. “You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it [online] and not to bring them to my games.”

He went on to say that Stiviano should not only refrain from bringing Magic Johnson to games, but that she must not ever appear with him again “in your lousy f*cking Instagrams.”

The girlfriend doesn’t come off well either here. At the beginning of the conversation she actually says “I wish I could change the color of my skin” for this racist asshole. Ugh, seriously? Then why are you dating him? Yeah, I think we all know the answer to that. Sterling released an absolutely laughable statement to TMZ:

Sterling and the Clippers organization tell TMZ Sports, “We have heard the tape on TMZ Sports. We do not know if it is legitimate or if it has been altered.”

Really? You don’t? You were part of the conversation, Donald. Surely you can tell us whether you actually said what is on the tape or not. But he can’t do that because it’s obviously him, so he’s trying this weird “we just don’t know” posture that is going to fool no one.

The statement goes on … “We do know that the woman on the tape — who we believe released it to TMZ Sports — is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family, alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even.'”

According to media reports on the lawsuit, that’s not quite accurate. She isn’t being sued by the “Sterling family,” she’s being sued by Donald Sterling’s partly estranged wife. And it isn’t for embezzlement, it’s for having an affair with her husband. She’s demanding that the woman give back all the gifts Donald has lavished on her because, since they’re still technically married, it came out of their community property:

The wife of Clippers owner Donald Sterling filed a lawsuit Friday against a woman she alleged had a sexual affair with her husband.

The suit filed by Rochelle Sterling also alleged that the woman, identified in court documents only as V. Stiviano, was also given lavish gifts by Donald Sterling, including property and cash…

Stiviano reportedly met Sterling at the Super Bowl game in February 2010 and that same year began a sexual relationship with him, the suit states.

The suit asks for a return of all cash, land, expensive cars and other items that under California law are the community property of the Sterlings.

That isn’t embezzlement, not by a longshot. And it’s his wife accusing him of lavishing her with gifts, not a lawsuit by “the family” against her.

And the statement goes on, “Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life.”

And there’s this: “He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them.”

Oh, of course. That’s not him. Or rather, it is him when he doesn’t think anyone else is listening in.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://www.russellturpin.com/ rturpin

    “You were part of the conversation, Donald. Surely you can tell us whether you actually said what is on the tape or not.”

    Maybe he’s paving the way for a senility defense.

  • Loqi

    He’s not racist! He’s just *wondering* if … er… he’s just … um …

    Damn. Not even Cliven Bundy’s Real Murican Patriot Brigade can find weasel words for that one.

  • John Pieret

    He doesn’t know if it is him on the tape making the statements but he apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them. Uh huh.

  • Nihilismus

    If you thought Cliven Bundy’s racist tirade was bad, wait till you hear this one from Donald Sterling . . .

    Uh, no, I think Bundy’s tirade was way worse. When I listen to the full audio of the Sterling clip, it actually sounds like Sterling likes other races, but wants to fit in with the clique of his rich white colleagues who are racist. It actually sounds like it pains Sterling that he has to keep up appearances as someone who doesn’t date partially-black women and admire and respect black men.

    Yes, Sterling should stand up to his racist white “friends.” But I think the accusations that he himself is racist are a little strong. Unless by racist you mean “not willing to appear with black people in public because of what other people might say,” but that’s more cowardly or enabling than what most people think of when they hear the term “racist.” It doesn’t sound like he hates or is disgusted by black people. It’s like when someone in junior high actually wants to be friends with the “loser” kid, but doesn’t want to risk being kicked out of the cool kids group.

    And it sounds like his girlfriend had already had this type of conversation with him before, and she wanted to get him on tape. That’s why he makes comments as to being confused as to why she keeps pressing an issue that upsets him. He’s upset not because she hangs out with black people, but because she does so publicly even after he’s explained to her why it is bad for his image.

    At least that’s my take from listening to the full audio rather than reading selected written transcripts. There’s something in Sterling’s character that deserves scorn here, but not for the reasons most people are stating.

  • colnago80

    Well, this miscreant is 80 years old so maybe his memory isn’t what it used to be.

  • Ben P

    He’s not racist! He’s just *wondering* if … er… he’s just … um …

    I think you go for the “pants on fire” defense here.

    He can’t be racist, he (an 80 year old white man, worth $1.9 Billion), is dating a 24 year old, half-black half-asian “artist/writer/model,” for whom he purchased a $1.8 million condo in LA while he was still married.

    He tells her he’s fine with her having sex with black men, as long as she doesn’t bring them to Lakers games or put them on her instagram.

    Nothing about this man suggests he’s the picture of reasonableness.

    Yeah, I’m taking the low road here,…..so what.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    He’s not a racist. Some of his best players are black people.

  • vmanis1

    I’m puzzled. After Brendan Eich’s forced resignation, lots of people (including some LGBTs) claimed that Eich was a victim of political incorrectness[*], and that it was a black mark against LGBTs, or perhaps Mozillans, or perhaps the Altoona, Idaho. Marching Band and Chowder Society[**], that he had been railroaded out of his job.

    But when Cliven Bundy orates on `the Negro’, or Sterling demands photographic racial purity, many of the same people immediately emit denunciations, and in Sterling’s case, demand that the NBA `do something’, which, I suppose, would mean he would be reprimanded, demoted, or fired, if he were an NBA employee.

    I’m unable to find anyone who is denouncing blacks or others for `infringing’ on these clowns’ freedom of speech. A curious inconsistency.

    [*] I have never yet found an instance where the non-ironic use of `political correctness’ communicates any useful information.

    [**] I made this one up.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Sterling’s estranged wife is pissed off because he gave the girlfriend a couple ferraris, a bentley, and a nice house, so she’s suing for embezzlement. Good luck with that.

    I wonder what it was like for her, being a puerto rican and knowing he probably thought less of her for that. Which makes no rational sense to me at all – she’s pretty enough to be his arm candy but he’s a racist? WTF.

  • tomh

    Nihilismus wrote

    I think the accusations that he himself is racist are a little strong

    If you can’t tell from the tape, you could look at his history. In 2006 the US Dept of Justice sued Sterling, (a real estate tycoon), for refusing to rent to blacks. He settled that for $3 million. In 2003, he settled a similar suit for an undisclosed sum, “‘one of the largest ever obtained in this type of case,” according to the judge—and a reported $5 million in plaintiff legal fees. But maybe you don’t consider those incidents racist, just good business practice. Former GM Elgin Baylor sued him (unsuccessfully) for wrongful termination, with many racist incidents described. Three former players have described how he used to bring women into the locker room to look at the players and said, “Just look at those beautiful black bodies.”

    But my favorite Sterling quote (not racist) is from a deposition in a lawsuit against a former mistress, where he talked about paying the woman $500 every time they had sex:

    Sterling: When I’m in a limousine she takes off all her clothes. And she starts sucking me on the way to Mr Koon’s house. And I thank her. I thank her for making me feel good.

    Q: Sir, the question was, is this your handwriting?

    Sterling has always been a buffoon and an embarrassment to the NBA, but as long as Stern was commissioner his antics were always swept under the rug. We’ll see if anything has changed with the new regime.

  • Chaos Engineer

    Yes, Sterling should stand up to his racist white “friends.” But I think the accusations that he himself is racist are a little strong. Unless by racist you mean “not willing to appear with black people in public because of what other people might say,” but that’s more cowardly or enabling than what most people think of when they hear the term “racist.” It doesn’t sound like he hates or is disgusted by black people.

    Racists don’t necessarily hate black people or find them disgusting. A lot of them like black people just fine, as long as they “aren’t uppity” and “know their place”. That’s pretty much the dynamic that’s in play here. So I’ll submit that Sterling is a racist *and* a coward. (So he’s still not a bad as Bundy, who is a racist, a coward, and a thief.)

    A non-racist coward would have been more likely to say something like, “Can you stop bringing White Supremacists to the games? I like them as individuals as long as they don’t talk politics, but they’re embarrassing me in front of my non-racist friends! Can’t you invite Magic Johnson instead?” (Now that I think about it, even that would be kind of sexist. He should let his mistress make her own decisions about who she wants to invite.)

  • Nihilismus

    @10 tomh

    If you can’t tell from the tape, you could look at his history. . . .

    Interesting. The few articles I read never mentioned that history, which seems like something they definitely would have mentioned. Maybe those first article writers were just trying to get something written early without doing more research first, and people have had more time to look at other things in his past. Admittedly, I only listened to the tape. But the other stuff you mentioned does seem to shift the presumption over to “he’s a racist.”

  • djk1

    Nihlismus —

    Here’s some more background on Sterling’s history of racist buffoonery:

    http://deadspin.com/your-complete-quotable-guide-to-decades-of-donald-sterl-1568047212

  • mikeyb

    Although I’m not a big sports fan in general or the NBA in particular, I tried to read stuff as an outsider and speculate what might happen. They may suspend Sterling and/or fine him large sums of money. But to him that would be pittance even if it amounted to millions given that he is worth hundreds of millions to possibly billions according to what I read. I don’t think they can force him out even if they want to. The players could quit en mass and there could be boycotts, but I suspect there are still enough fans who don’t give a damn who will show up for games no matter what. Sports is so profitable nowadays you just have to have a team practically to make a living. Even if he lost money, why would an 80 year old racist multimillionaire actually care what anyone thinks, given this is the way he actually is. Anyway it will be fun to watch from the sidelines how this plays out. It’s also a testimony about America as well, why are professional sports so obscenely big that people spend excessive amounts of time and energy consumed what this racist asshole thinks. Its because sports is big and entertainment (religion like megachurches IMO another form of entertainment) has become effectively more important than reality for a huge part of the population. May this actually not be such a good thing in the long run. If we care more about how may points LeBron James scored than we do about global warming, what does it mean?

  • http://dontlinkmebro F [i’m not here, i’m gone]

    As Salty Current pointed out, his attitude is pretty damned sexist, too.And it is kind of weird that this gets little mention.

  • kyoseki

    mikeyb

    I don’t think they can force him out even if they want to.

    If the NBA works like the NFL in that they all essentially split one large pot of money from tv advertising and what have you (that is, incidentally, also why the NFL is a registered non profit, money comes into a central holding organization and then goes out to the teams), then I fully expect there are mechanisms in place to kick out an owner who is effectively costing them money.

    The Clippers have already lost half a dozen major sponsors who don’t want to be associated with this asshole.

    Ultimately, that’s what gets people kicked out of senior management positions, it’s not that they voice unpopular opinions, it’s that those opinions start costing organizations money as they lose customers & sponsors.

    If you start costing your organization money, you get fired.

    All of the people screaming that he should be free to voice his opinion without recriminations always seem to forget that part.

  • tomh

    @ #14

    I don’t think they can force him out even if they want to.

    Actually, they can. According to the constitution that was adopted by the NBA owners in 2005, the commissioner can suspend an owner indefinitely and levy fines up to several million dollars, to any owner who “makes … a statement having or designed to have an effect prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of basketball.”

    In addition, under the terms of Paragraph 13 of the constitution, the owners can terminate another owner’s franchise with a vote of three-fourths of the NBA Board of Governors, which is composed of all 30 owners. Although designed for gambling and fraud, it includes a provision for termination when an owner “fails to fulfill” a “contractual obligation” in “such a way as to affect the [NBA] or its members adversely.” The constitution requires owners to conduct business in a “reasonable” and “ethical” level which would seem to cover this situation. Of course, they don’t confiscate the team, (worth upwards of $500 million), but they could withdraw his franchise and force him to sell. That would be a drastic solution. Much more likely is a suspension, perhaps a year, and heavy fines.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Off-topic: Charges: Anoka woman files taxes from ‘Kingdom of Heaven’

    I’ll bet Kent Hovind’s lawyer has free time to take up their case.

  • eric

    vmanis1:

    I’m unable to find anyone who is denouncing blacks or others for `infringing’ on these clowns’ freedom of speech. A curious inconsistency.

    I don’t see much inconsistency here. Bundy is a bigoted criminal, but nobody is saying he should get double secret punishment for being a bigot. It’s more a matter of finding out a crazy guy who should’ve been cracked down on a long time ago is ALSO racist.

    Eich and Sterling are more comparable, but its still not exactly analogous because Eich never said negative things about Mozilla’s GLBT employees or denigrated them. He gave personal money to Prop 8, but that’s it. What Sterling did is (IMO) a much more direct insult and attack on his own organization, so it stands to reason that it would matter more to the question of whether people support him as owner or not.

  • colnago80

    Re tomh @ #17

    There is precedent from major league baseball. Marge Shott was forced to sell her stake in the Cincinnati Reds by the commissioner because of racist and antisemitic remarks. Frank McCourt was forced to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers by the commissioner because of his mismanagement of the franchise.

  • gshelley

    Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life.”

    Hmm, a more convincing response, that I suspect many people could make when confronted by such allegations is to deny categorically having made the statement. The simple fact he didn’t do so, shows, even if he doesn’t specifically remember the incident (though he may), he thinks it is the sort of thing he might have said.

  • scienceavenger

    Maybe he doesn’t remember because he was drunk. Sure sounds like it on the recording the way he rambles. Either that or he really is going senile.

    And of all the teams…the poor Clippers. And now this dick has robbed me of enjoying rooting for one of the great sports underdogs. At least now I know why they have sucked all these years.

  • colnago80

    Re #22

    I don’t know, the Washington Wizards are pretty underdog too.

  • colnago80

    It appears that the NBA commissioner has lowered the boom on ole Donald.

    http://goo.gl/PSQA4L

  • scienceavenger

    Hey, I remember when the Wiz…er Bullets made two consecutive finals appearances and won one. Guess that makes me old. No such luck for the Clips, not even close.

  • colnago80

    Re scienceavenger @ #25

    Hey, that was 36 years ago.