Clipper Owner Donald Sterling may or may not have been caught on tape engaging in some deplorably racist talk with an ex-girlfriend with whom he is engaged in a lawsuit.
While we await a league investigation to sort out questions of authenticity, let's note that Sterling's history lends the tape an air of plausibility (offset by his philanthropy). I do love this detail from a 2000 SI profile cited and excerpted at American Power. Sterling likes owning an NBA club in part because he likes to entertain:
Those friends—a mix of Friars Clubbers and Merv Era celebs—show up en masse at Sterling's Malibu White Party, the extravagant tented barbecue-and-bubbly beach bash he often throws at his second home, a neo-Tudor oceanfront bungalow.
Oh, brother. The white does not encourage hoods; an explanation follows:
The party is so named because guests are encouraged to dress all in white, as in The Great Gatsby.
I suppose I could page through The Great Gatsby looking for depictions of black characters, but let's move on.
William Rhoden of the Times takes the odd notion that the Clipper players should boycott during the playoffs while they are a legitimate title contender. Really? Maybe Mr. Rhoden should lead the way by abandoning his profession and boycotting this topic.
Magic Johnson makes a lot more sense, saying that fans ought to boycott. He goes awry, however:
Magic Johnson tells TMZ Sports ... he wants Donald Sterling to step down as the Clippers owner and he thinks African Americans should boycott the games until that happens.
Magic says he strongly believes the players should focus on playing basketball and should NOT boycott Sunday's playoff game. BUT, Magic thinks African Americans should not line Sterling's pockets by going to the games, saying, "He wants our money but doesn't want us to show up."
A blacks-only boycott? White fans, outraged or not, get a pass and are free to associate themselves with this debacle? Weird.
For my money, it may be asking a lot of Joe Lunchbucket to stay at home and rip up hundreds of dollars worth of tickets. But it is not asking much of Johnny Corporate Seat to find something else to do the next time the Clippers are at home. The seats down by courtside are pricey, and I wouldn't want to be caught dead on national television sitting in one.
That said, if some big bank gives their courtside tickets to a local black minister for his youth group, what happens next? I don't know, but it could work well, especially if Sterling is also courtside.
Let's note that Mr. Sterling is an active philanthropist slated to receive an NAACP award. Money talks, but does it tell the truth?