After allegedly making inflammatory, racially charged remarks, Donald Sterling is dominating the headlines, the television stations, the airways and everything in between. The Los Angeles Clippers owner ignited outrage this past weekend when audio leaked of the soon-to-be 80-year-old telling V. Stiviano – rumored to be Sterling’s ex-girlfriend – to not bring black players to games.
Apparently Sterling doesn’t realize that the vast majority of his team – and the NBA in general – is black.
“I feel sad for Donald Sterling because he thinks he still lives in a world that accepts these type of behaviors – and it doesn’t,” Morning Show co-host Tiki Barber said. “If he really feels this way, come out and say it. Come and call your players the N-word on national television. Don’t be a coward and hide behind your money.”
Several former players, including Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, have lashed out publicly at Sterling, saying his attitudes have no place in the NBA – or society in general. Johnson, in fact, said he won’t attend another Clippers game as long as Sterling is the owner.
Given that Johnson is one of the most beloved figures – athlete or otherwise – in Los Angeles history, his words carry significant weight. A statue of Johnson is located outside of the Staples Center, where the Clippers play their home games.
But this saga unfolded further Sunday on the road – in Oakland, in fact – as the Clippers lost Game 4 of their first-round playoff series to Golden State. The Clippers started slow, never quite found their footing and lost, 118-97. Stephen Curry scored a game-high 33 points, finished with a game-high seven assists and made seven three-pointers. The Clippers, meanwhile, had 19 turnovers, and – despite having a significant advantage in the paint – got out-rebounded 34-32.
While Doc Rivers said the distraction caused by Sterling is not an excuse for the loss, it’d be hard to fault the Clippers for using it as one.
“Could I have ever played for Donald Sterling?” Barber asked. “Not a chance. Would I have played last night if I was with the Los Angeles Clippers? Not a chance.”
The Clippers, to their credit, did stage a silent protest before the game. During their pre-game routine, they refused to wear their warm-up jerseys – which possess the Clippers’ emblem – and wore their red shits inside out. They also wore black armbands and black socks as a sign of solidarity.
Barber didn’t think it was enough. He thinks the Clippers should have boycotted the game.
“This was an historic opportunity,” he said. “Opportunities don’t set themselves up like this ever to make a statement. If the Clippers had not played, we would never, ever, ever forget this moment in basketball history.”