Through the years defiance has been a way of expressing displeasure or hate for something bigger than ourselves.
On April 27th, 2014 when the Los Angeles Clippers donned their black sweat bands and threw their warm ups on center court, it was an act of defiance against owner Donald Sterling.
Sterling, an owner blinded by race so much so that he has been recorded saying “I don’t want black people attending my games.”
The Clippers lost their most recent game but not because of a lack of talent or determination but because of a lack of focus.
The players on the team are under a great deal of stress, these players are having to deal with the media frenzy caused by Sterling’s comments and being pressured to answer question after question about how they feel about the situation.
Chris Paul, the star point guard for the Clippers, said “I am nervous to go home”.
He also faced questions from his family and friends of the same variety which he has experienced from the media.
This story broke when the Latina mistress of Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano, recorded Sterling not only once but twice, expressing his racist views.
Views which aren’t too far removed from the days of Jim Crow. According to Dead Spin:
V: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.
DS: Well then, if you don’t feel—don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.
V: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?
DS: You just, do I know? 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 theleague?
This ridiculous amount of racist banter continues for a full 15 minutes on tape and ranges from comments like these to this horrific comparison in the way black jews are treated as opposed to white jews.
DS: It’s the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.
V: So do you have to treat them like that too?
DS: The white Jews, there’s white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?
V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?
DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.
V: And is that right?
DS: It isn’t a question—we don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.
V: But shouldn’t we take a stand for what’s wrong? And be the change and the difference?
DS: I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too [unknown].
V: But you can change yourself.
DS: I don’t want to change. If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl—because I tried to do what you want. But you’re not that girl.
This is not the first time that Donald Sterling has been accused of being a racist.
In the 1980’s when the Clippers were looking for a new head coach, they looked at up and coming coach Rollie Massimino, who had been coaching at Villanova.
When Massimino flew in he was told by the GM of the Clippers, Paul Phipps, that he was going to meet with Sterling and to beware because he could be a bit eccentric.
According to Jeff Pearlman, Massimino flies in and meets with Sterling at the airport terminal.
Then around 3 or 4 in the morning Phipps gets a call from Massimino who is irate saying, “Here’s this guy and he has his blonde bimbo with him, they have a bottle of champagne, they’re tanked. And Don looks at me and he says,
‘I wanna know how you can coach these niggers’.”
This bigotry by Sterling has caused players like Lebron James to come out swinging on twitter saying,
“There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league” and Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson to say that his wife nor him will ever go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.
Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver states that Sterling will face due process but that the league would move, “extraordinarily quickly” according to ESPN, in gathering facts surrounding the recording released by TMZ.
While the punishment is waiting to be determined for Donald Sterling, the Clippers organization from the coach to the players have already been penalized.
In the middle of a playoff race when they should be excited to go home and ready to defend the Staples Center, they are instead coming home to uncertainty about the future.
The players have been dealt a bad hand.
They’ve been swamped with more questions than answers and must bear with an owner stuck living with an outdated mentality, one who believes in a culture of racial discrimination.
If only for the time being.