Angelo Cataldi: Lifetime banishment long overdue for Donald Sterling

Donald Sterling
Donald Sterling has a history of racist comments.
Credit: Reuters

The NBA banned for life Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling yesterday, one of the boldest moves in the history of professional sports. There is no question that the decision by new commissioner Adam Silver was the correct move — the only move. But save your applause, please.

Sterling didn’t become a racist when tapes surfaced a few days ago of him demanding that his girlfriend not bring African-Americans to Clippers games. By every reasonable measure, Sterling has been a racist from the time he purchased the Clippers 33 years ago. Why did it take so long for a major American sport to rid itself of such a contemptible man? That’s the question fans should be asking today.

The case against Donald Sterling has been building from 1983 – two years after he purchased the Clippers – when he met with Rollie Massimino at the height of the Villanova coach’s success and asked him: “What makes you think you can coach these n——?” Massimino has made no secret of his disgust at that remark, nor of his abrupt departure from that job interview.

Even more outrageous was the $2.7-million settlement Sterling made in 2009 on a housing-discrimination charge stemming from allegations that he refused to rent to African-Americans at his Los Angeles housing complexes – the largest such payment in American history. According to the public record of that hearing, Sterling claimed that the blacks in his buildings “smell; they’re not clean.”

That same year, NBA legend Elgin Baylor filed a wrongful termination and discrimination suit against Sterling for the “Southern plantation-type structure” the owner had created in the team’s front office. Baylor ultimately lost a jury verdict on his lawsuit, but his litany of racial allegations – also documented publicly – was impossible to ignore.

Somehow, however, that is exactly what the NBA did. As case after case, incident after incident, piled up against Sterling, everybody who could have done something did nothing. For example, David Stern, who was commissioner for most of Sterling’s tenure, chose to run a league built on the skills of blacks while protecting an owner whose biases were blatantly apparent. Why?

It’s painfully simple, really. Sterling’s offensive feelings didn’t actually hurt business until the public heard his voice spouting his racial hatred on tape last week. Once there was no way to rationalize his irrational behavior, the NBA finally acted with a vengeance. When a dozen advertisers pulled their support from Clippers games last weekend, Sterling’s fate was finally sealed.

Adam Silver deserves none of the blame for the past transgressions – he has been commissioner for only the last three months – and most of the credit for finally taking an action that was long overdue, against a man who represents the very worst in sports. Silver is the only real winner here.

The list of losers, on the other hand, is a long one. Sterling has lost his team. The NBA has lost it reputation for racial equality. And the fans – if they have learned anything from this – have lost faith in the people entrusted with running our sports with fairness and honor.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.