Three Quick Thoughts About Donald Sterling’s Lifetime Ban From The NBA
1. There’s no way this happens in 1990. Or 2000. It may not have even happened in 2010. Think about this: A White billionaire was banned from (and forced to sell) his billion-dollar business because of three minutes worth of audio that was first reported on by a gossip site. This entire process took less than a week.Â
I don’t know what to call this time we’re living in. The social media era? The outrage era? The accountability era? Either way, we’re existing in a point of history where everybody is made accountable for everything they say.
Interestingly enough, Sterling’s recorded statements were about 1/100,000ths as racist as the actual things he’s actually done, which provesÂ you can still get away withÂ doingÂ things. Actions are still able to be spun by the actor.Â Words, however, have never been moreÂ powerful. But today this power lies with the people receiving, reblogging, refreshing, retweeting, and reinterpreting them.
2. As bad of a mess this is, the Sterling controversy is actually good for the NBA. Think about it: The unanimous outrage and decisive action over Sterling’s comments allows the league to position itself as forward thinking and progressive — at least forward thinking and progressive in comparison to other professional sports leagues. An already outstanding playoffs now has attention from people usually uninterested in the NBA. And, the new commissioner (Adam Silver) was able to hit a based-loadedÂ grand slam. No one outside of Lupita Nyong’o has a higher approval rating than he does right now.
3. I wonder if those who were soÂ adamant in calling the Clippers “cowards” or “sell-outs” for continuing to play have ever bought a pair of Nikes…and ignored the allegations that their sneakers are made in sweatshops. Or have ever shopped at Whole Foods (whose CEO compared President Obama to Hilter) or Walmart. Or have ever eaten Chick-fil-A (whose CEO is openly anti-gay). Or are rocking conflict diamonds on their fingers and in their earlobes. Or are reading this on an iPhone or iPad possibly created by child laborers in China working 12 hours a day for 70 cents an hour.
Point? Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with how the Clippers’ players handed things, before you start the name-calling and insults, check yourself and your relationship with your “principles” first.
(For the record, I also thought a game protest would have been a great move. But, that’s easy for me to say. And I wondered if me wanting that is more about me and my own self-righteousness than it was about doing something that actually mattered. Anyway, calling someone a coward because they disagree with you about how to handle a complex situation that directly affects them — and has no effect on you — is the epitome of cowardice. That type of name-calling isn’t “making a stand.” It’s standing on the backs of those with an actual investment to make yourself look taller.Â It’s “cause chickenhawking.”)Â
4. Conversation I had with the Gay Reindeer yesterday:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Sterling was a cuckold. Him being okay with her sleeping with Black guys kinda tipped me off.”
“What’s a cuckold?”
“It’s when a guy gets off on his woman being with other guys.”
“Interesting.” (Takes a beat) “Did you feed the dog yet?”
5. The MilwaukeeÂ Bucks — an NBA team I’m sure a few of you don’t even realize is an NBA team — just sold for $550 million. Why does this matter? Well, Donald Sterling bought the LA Clippers a couple decades ago for something like two Happy Meals and a week’s worth of free car washes. Now he is being forced to sell to his team. No official valuation of the Clippers has been made yet, but they’re a franchise in a great city that also happens to have two of the most popular players in the NBA (Chris Paul and Blake Griffin). If the Bucks are worth half a billion, the Clippers are worth twice, even three times that. Sterling’s punishment is him being forced to finally cash in on a cheap investment worth a billion dollars.
Point? Even in defeat, (rich) White men still win.