NBA owners aren’t standing on solid ethical ground in fight against Donald Sterling

Oklahoman Published: June 10, 2014
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                  Donald Sterling’s on-again, off-again fight with the NBA is apparently on again. 
                   AP photo
Donald Sterling’s on-again, off-again fight with the NBA is apparently on again. AP photo

Donald Sterling is a social buffoon and a reprehensible businessman and maybe, just maybe, a demented old man.

But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

Sterling’s on-again, off-again fight with the league that made him famous apparently is on again. The deposed Los Angeles Clippers owner says he’ll fight the NBA’s attempts to sell his franchise to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

“WHY I AM FIGHTING THE NBA? THE NBA WANTS TO TAKE AWAY OUR PRIVACY RIGHTS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH.”

That’s how Sterling entitled his statement Monday that announced his fight to keep his franchise and his plans to sue the league for $1 billion.

That freedom of speech reference is over the top. Freedom of speech is a governmental issue, and this is not a governmental issue. But that privacy declaration is right on the money.

The famous tape in which Sterling talks racial nonsense to his bimbo of a mistress made Sterling vulnerable to his fellow owners. They smell hide. They smell a chance to rid themselves of the worst owner in American sport.

But the owners aren’t standing on solid ethical ground. Where was the outrage when Sterling, one of Los Angeles’ biggest slumlords, was accused by the federal government of discriminating housing practices against minorities? Where was the outrage when Sterling engaged in a variety of seedy behavior, including taking out full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times espousing his dubious efforts to help the homeless, and embarrassing lawsuits that included tawdry testimony?

Stand up then, NBA. Suspend the guy, fine the guy, tell the world you’re going to force the guy out. Do that, and we’ll believe the league is on the high side of morality.

But wait until he’s illegally recorded by a gold-digger, talking goofy about Magic Johnson and racial relationships? Doesn’t cut it. That Donald Sterling is a racist is not breaking news.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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