The Clippers used to be the laughingstock of Los Angeles, and just when things were starting to look good for them, this had to happen. Donald Sterling is the team’s owner, and for a the better part of the decade people have been pointing out that the screening process for his rental properties are pretty racist. See this article from 2006, in which an ESPN columnist points out that he won’t rent apartments in Beverly Hills to black people. But we, the easily distracted general public, needed for this painfully obvious fact to be presented to us in a much more obvious way in order for it to become the scandal it deserved to be eight years ago.
And finally, Sterling has delivered, serving up a sizzling plate of red hot racism that was sure to get attention as it was directed at his most visible property (the Clippers), and delivered in the form of a tape that surfaced on TMZ. Here are some highlights:
— “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30)
— “You can sleep with [black people]. 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.” (5:15)
— “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)
— “…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.” (9:13)
Then came the outrage. Magic Johnson pledged never to go to a Clippers game again. The NBA fined him $2.5 million (the maximum allowed under their charter) and banned him from all games, practices, and other NBA events. Michael Jordan was silent on the issue – which led plenty of people to direct their rage at him as well.
Despite this historic meltdown, the Clippers themselves seem to be taking the news in stride. The team easily beat the Golden State Warriors last night, leading the series 3-2 as the playoffs continue. And in fact, this news might even be a blessing in disguise. If the Clippers can shed their racist owner, they might really become a force to be reckoned with.