Up until three days ago, if you had mentioned Donald Sterling I would have told you that he was the owner of one of the worst franchises in professional sports. While it's true that the Clippers have enjoyed three consecutive winning seasons featuring superstars like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul; for most of the last three decades the Clippers have been the poor cousins of the Lakers.
But over the past 72 hours, Sterling has become a household name following taped revelations
telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to Clippers game including NBA legend and current Los Angeles Dodgers owner Magic Johnson. Tomorrow the NBA will announce what it intends to do with Sterling.
It appears that the 80-year old Sterling possesses a typical 1960s white liberal attitude towards African-Americans. He might have no problem hiring African-Americans, but he doesn't want to live next door to nor associate with them in a social setting on an equal footing much less see them hanging around his daughter (or in this case his girlfriend). This is the kind of racist Donald Sterling is. It's like old Phil Ochs' lyric
: "I love Puerto Ricans and Negros as long as they don't move next door/So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal." For that matter, one could watch Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
(For the record
, Sterling is a registered Republican who has donated money to Democrats.).
Racism, like poverty, will always be with us. But what has changed in the past 50 years is that there is no faster way to become a social pariah in this country than to be accused of racism. In fact, one could make the case that in some circles being accused of racism is worse than being accused of rape or murder. Regardless of what the NBA does to Donald Sterling tomorrow, his public life is over.