6 thoughts on “Donald Sterling

  1. Sadly, I think he’s probably the tip of the iceberg: he just happened to get caught on tape. Maybe we should be encouraged that, more and more, the people saying these things tend to be old coots with little time left to poison the well.

    Not sure I’m on board with the “ban for life” thing, though: that’s some seriously unacceptable shit he said, but is being an asshole a fireable offense? And how would I feel if the tables were turned and I could lose my job by expressing my support of, say, same-sex marriage or women’s rights? I shouldn’t expect to be shielded from public censure and even shunning (freedom of expression works both ways, after all), but should that reaction have coercive force?

    YMMV, as always.


  2. Southern Californians know Don well. As my son twitted almost a week ago, Sterling the racist slumlord advertised way earlier than recently.


  3. ^^ This is true. Unfortunately, the people who knew best and were most affected were those with the least voice, so many of us are only just now hearing about this repellent poo-canoe.


  4. The people who knew best, but were the least voiced, seemingly include some of the same colleagues-in- ownership who jumped to separate him from their ranks as quickly as the story “broke.” One of the many ironies is that the public historical record is doubtless strewn with incautious commentary of the same vile tenor that would have been expressed without embarrassment a long generation ago by owners who were somewhat grudgingly diversifying the player ranks of their jim crow league, but probably not looking to integrate their fan base. I was never really an NBA fan, but I vividly remember, growing up in the postwar NYC suburbs, watching on a tiny black-and-white TV “Knickerbockers” games that could almost have been filmed in Sleepy Hollow. It’s only relatively surprising that Southern California is where the thing blew out.


  5. jumped to separate

    This happened with Cliven Bundy’s pundit friends as well, though on a different time trajectory. Bundy’s racist ideas only mattered (in the sense that people distanced themselves from him) when he gave them voice on national tee vee in theoretical proximity to said pundits. It seems that Sterling’s views were known by many for a long time. It surprises me not at all that racist speech and actions only matter when they might stick to somebody else and cause collateral economic damage. It makes me sick inside but it does not surprise me.


  6. It really is a Mad Men name; I’ve been joking that he should change his name to Draper and start over.

    But Don Draper also provides a convenient answer for Notorious’s question: being an asshole has always been a firing offense when it gets in the way of business. Sterling’s comments are the equivalent of, say, Don Draper’s unsettling ramble to the Hershey’s people … It sent business fleeing, and cost his partners money. That’s what gets you fired from a partnership.

    It’s worth pointing out that Sterling’s business for the last 30 years has been dependent upon the 29 other owners’. He makes his money off their businesses, while adding little or no value. The Clippers haven’t been a brand of their own; their value is that they play the other 29 teams. Sterling collects a share of the league’s TV and merchandising revenue, revenue created by the other 29 owners’ businesses. The Clippers are a (minor) drag on the other teams’ value. Don Draper at least had a history of making his partners money. Donald Sterling’s history is the other way around.

    But Sterling’s racist idiocy sent sponsors running for cover and the players to the verge of revolt. So suddenly this guy, who had always cost the other 29 owners more than he brought them, is poised to wreck all 29 other businesses. I don’t think the math was complicated.

    Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences; if your public statements screw up your business, there isn’t a Constitutional remedy for that. (And that, alas includes people who screw up their businesses by voicing sentiments I agree with.)


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