By Tom Cushing
The Clipper Lip, and other Notable Notes on Prior BlogsUploaded: Apr 27, 2014
Would you work for Donald Sterling? As a player Or a girlfriend? The owner of the LA Clippers NBA team has made himself the shmuck heard 'round the world ? literally, as his alleged racist diatribe transcended the sports pages, and even drew comment from the Prez in Kuala Lumpur.
First, a caveat: the tape came from said girlfriend, currently the defendant in a lawsuit alleging embezzlement from the Clippers, so it needs to be authenticated. Apparently the sentiments expressed were consistent with his reputation, but who can forget the woman who faked an email supporting a sex harassment charge against famous lothario Larry Ellison (she went to jail for a time)? It seems unlikely that this tape was doctored, but I'd reserve a small element of judgment.
If true, it depicts a crude, abusive and below-all racist codger, chastising his girlfriend for public associations with minorities, including a photo-op with Magic Johnson. Truth be told, he also sounds pathetic and confused, but he's sufficientlycompos mentis compo to be running a real estate empire. At minimum, he'd qualify to run a Nevada cattle ranch.
At this writing, the Clippers team has met, and will play tonight's play-off game against our Local Heroes, the Warriors. "I think the biggest statement we can make as men, not as black men, as men, is to stick together and show how strong we are as a group," their coach Doc Rivers said. "Not splinter. Not walk. It's easy to protest. The protest will be in our play."
Juxtaposing this incident with the infamous Mozilla CEO affaire, I respectfully disagree. A much stronger 'statement' would be made with at least a one-game forfeit ? a wildcat strike to force the NBA's hand. Sometimes, behavior is SO base and unacceptable that a statement -- a-no-uncertain-terms statement -- must be made. I suppose that the fact that the NBA is a heavily black-oriented league (in 2011, 78% of its players were African American, with another 4% Latinos) makes it Even worse, but it was plenty bad by itself to warrant drastic action.
I recall Harry Edwards' rhetoric around the Olympics boycott of the 1970s ? a protest that had no such specific focal point: "Walk, crawl, run or jump ? it's all the same if you do it for The Man." You can't escape the fact that they'll be doing just that, for an antebellum plantation relic. He's got to go, pronto. I also wonder whether Tommie Smith and John Carlos might have a word with Mr. Rivers: protest is easy==??
Throwing tonight into turmoil would be such a statement. Sadly, as things stand, this sordid display is a money-maker for the league ? everybody's buzzing about it. The controversy will kite viewer interest and ad revenues for the league ? and for The Man. It's also true that the players will be paid if they play, although playoffs payouts are a relatively small share of their incomes.
Some things really ought to transcend sports (okay, maybe not baseball -- but sports in general). The battle against racism, wherever that ugliness rears its rancid head, is such a thing. Pulling out of tonight's contest would put matters in their proper priority: an ongoing Rights struggle vs. a kids' game played by adults. Conversely, playing suggests the opposite. It's not even close. The owner committed a flagrant foul; continuing to play for him shoots an airball.
In other news:
The Silivalley no-poaching case has settled before trial (scheduled for late May). Terms have not yet been disclosed, but will be soon. I'm guessing that it'll be an expensive lesson ? it needs to be to deter such market manipulations in the future. Silicon Valley does not get a free pass simply because it's "the new new thing."
It will be interesting to what happens to tech wages over the next year or two. That will be the proof of the pudding. Silicon Valley's Own Reserve Clause, 3/30/2014
The trials, literally, of several chimps in New York State is the cover story of the New York Times magazine this week. This animal welfare stuff is getting serious. Put another way, Mr. Heston ? maybe we're All dam' dirty apes. His Day in Court, 12/31/2013.