NBA: The 7 Best Reactions to Donald Sterling’s Racist Diatribe
The fallout from Donald Sterling’s racist screed, which hit the internet over the weekend and dovetailed with the nation’s newest discourse on race, a discussion prompted by footage of Cliven Bundy telling journalists about “the Negro” has been swift and unrelenting. Sterling, who bought the Clippers in 1982 for $12 million and moved them from San Diego to Los Angeles, claims through a statement released by the Clippers that he “is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs, or feelings.” While the tape’s authenticity is currently under investigation by the NBA, neither the Clippers nor Sterling have denied that the voice on the recording is his.
So, while the tape may have surfaced under dubious circumstances — Sterling’s girlfriend is the defendant in a lawsuit that alleges she embezzled more than $1.8 million from the Sterling family, per the LA Times — the veracity of who is making the statements doesn’t seem to be partial to serious dispute. The face behind the Clippers franchise, a longtime staple of “worst team ever” lists and other unsavory descriptions of bad NBA teams, who has seen his team’s worth balloon to nearly 50 times the price he paid for it, almost certainly made those remarks, which are, in the nicest light, merely damaging to the uneasy relationship between NBA ownership, the players, and the league’s fans.
With national attention at it’s absolute peak after an exciting first round that has offered hours of highly competitive basketball played at the highest level, everyone involved in the NBA has voiced an opinion on Sterling’s remarks. While the tone has been universally consistent — no one thinks they’re anything other than disgusting — some have had more eloquent, poignant, or brutally honest reactions to the comments. Here are seven of the strongest.
7. DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan, the starting center for the clippers, posted his response to Instagram. There it is in it’s entirety. Jordan was drafted by the Clippers with the 35th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, and has played his entire career for the Los Angeles team. The image, an entirely black square posted to his Instagram and retweeted on his Twitter account, caught fire on social media, garnering thousands of likes and retweets.
6. Charles Barkley and Inside the NBA
Where DeAndre chose symbolism, Barkley chose a statement. On TNT’s Emmy-winning halftime show Inside the NBA, Sir Charles, along with fellow analysts Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, didn’t hold back. “This is the first test for [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver. [Sterling] has to be suspended and fined immediately.” The Hall 0f Fame power forward said. “If someone wants to be racist, that’s their thing. But when you’re in a position of power and you can take jobs and economic opportunity away from people, that’s what crosses the line.” Check out the full response in the YouTube video below.
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) April 27, 2014
5. The Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Houston Rockets
While the Los Angeles Clippers chose to protest Sterling’s comments by dumping their warmups in the center of the floor and wearing their team’s shirts — the article of clothing all NBA players wear for their time on the bench (each of which is emblazoned with their team’s logos) — inside out, they also wore Black socks, black armbands, and black accessories that did not always bear the NBA’s logo, usually a fineworthy offense. In a show of solidarity led by Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who told TNT it was “something to support our brothers,” the Rockets and the Blazers, who have been engaged in the most exciting first round series in recent memory with three out of the first four playoff matchups going into overtime, also donned black socks in a display that echoed Michigan’s Fab Five.
4. Magic Johnson
One of the Fab Five, Jalen Rose is a member of ESPN’s NBA Playoff analysis team, which also features Sage Steele, former NBA Head Coach (and first overall pick in the 1973 NBA draft) Doug Collins, and ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, was joined by Magic Johnson to discuss the issue on Sunday. Johnson, who was pictured in the photograph that allegedly set Sterling off — the New York Post has published the photo, which has been deleted from Instagram – had a concise summary of the damage Sterling had caused to the league with his remarks.
“He shouldn’t have a team anymore. And he should stand up and say, ‘I don’t want to own a team any more.’ There’s no place in our society for it, there’s no place in our league.” Johnson said on the broadcast. “We have made him money, but we’re not welcome at the game. We can’t get over that. That’s why we’re upset.”
3. Doc Rivers
Perhaps no one had more to lose personally than Doc Rivers, who left the Boston Celtics for a head coaching gig with the Clippers, as well as a position at the head of the team’s basketball operations. Rivers, who dedicated an entire chapter of his 1994 book Those Who Love The Game to a discussion of race in sports, told ESPNhis thoughts on the matter.
“I don’t know if I’m surprised or not,” Rivers said. “I didn’t like the comments, obviously. We had a great team meeting this morning about it. A lot of guys voiced their opinions. None of them were happy about it. This is a situation where we’re trying to go after something very important for us. Something that we’ve all dreamed about all our childhoods. Donald or anyone else had nothing to do with that dream and we’re not going to let anything get in the way of those dreams.”
2. Michael Jordan
As the only NBA owner who is also on the short list for top NBA players of all time, Michael Jordan’s response to the incident might have been the most widely anticipated opinion within the entire league. After initially issuing a “no comment,” Jordan issued a statement on Sunday that left no doubt as to his thoughts on the matter.
“I look at this from two perspectives — as a current owner and a former player. As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views,” the statement began. “As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA — or anywhere else — for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.”
1. Snoop Dogg
Well said, Mr. Calvin Broadus. Snoop, who’s fandom of Los Angeles sports has been almost as constant as his presence on hit records since the debut of his first album, 1993′s “Doggystyle,”and his notable contributions to Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” released in December of 1992, left no room as to how he felt about Sterling’s remarks, and its profanity and brevity are both refreshing and true to the feelings of almost everyone who heard it. Sometimes sentiment doesn’t need to be couched in reasoned, family friendly language.
The rapper, who is now making reggae records under the moniker Snoop Lion, has been noted for his fandom of the Los Angeles teams, as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. He also coached his son’s youth football team.