Finally. Teflon Don’s racism has been caught on audiotape, and it is difficult to choose among at least 11 statements which was the most egregious  This time he is angry with his girlfriend for taking a picture with Magic Johnson, and doesn’t want African-Americans attending his games (DeadSpin has the full 15-minute recording).. About Magic, he states:

“I think the fact that you admire him—I’ve known him well, and he should be admired. And I’m just saying that it’s too bad you can’t admire him privately.”

“Admire him, bring him here, feed him, f*** him, I don’t care. You can do anything. But don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games, okay?”

Admiration in private. Admonishment in public. Sterling’s backlash has been swift. Lebron James, and kudos to Lebron James, made his feelings known, and specifically put NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on notice to act decisively.

“As commissioner of our league, you have to make a stand and you have to be very aggressive with it,” James said. “I don’t know what it’s going to be, but you just can’t have that in our league.”

NBA Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins added:

“As a black man living in the South, this is not something that is a surprise. Racism is prevalent, still a problem and something that can NOT be taken lightly in ANY context!”

“As a former Clipper, I feel for the community of LA. It is a melting pot of culture and ALL races. For Clipper fans, staff and players, I do hope this is dealt with swiftly and justly. It is just totally disappointing.”

Magic Johnson stated he would never go to a Clippers game as long as Sterling is the owner, and Jesse Jackson has extended that sentiment to all fans:

“And since Donald Sterling doesn’t want blacks to go to his games, blacks should not go to his games. And whites who view blacks as equals should not go to his games.”

Even president Obama has weighed in.

Noooow, the NBA can no longer look the other way on Donald Sterling. ESPN and sports media can no longer look the other way. Fans can no longer look the other way.

But what has taken so long? Why must actual audiotape be necessary to spot blatant racism. There has been lawsuit after lawsuit of Donald Sterling’s long history of racism and sexism. The most recent audiotape merely verified over a decade of legal and non-legal allegations.

In the past corporate  media treatment of Sterling’s racism was focused on why there was so little attention to Sterling’s racism. In 2006, ESPN’s Bomani Jones declared that “Sterling’s Racism Should Be News“, and after even more lawsuits, ESPN’s Peter Keating wrote in 2009 “Uncontested: The Life of Donald Sterling“. Yet Sterling’s racism — and sexism — has remained largely uncontested ever since. In 2012, another discrimination and abuse of power story emerged with Sterling, but ESPN and the Associated Press chose not to cover it.

In “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Game We Love“, author Dave Zirin covered Donald Sterling in the chapter Slumlord Billionaire. What is so notable about “Bad Sports”, is that it stands out so glaringly precisely because there are so few books about sports owners unless one has the bombastic personality of a George Steinbrenner. Scared sports writers will go after a Black athlete getting a speeding ticket before a wealthy white owner’s institutional racism — unless there is audiotape.

So now that there is a smoking gun, there will likely be wall-to-wall coverage of Sterling, followed by punishment. But after the consequences have been rendered, the question must thoroughly considered by the NBA, ESPN, and all of sports media: 

Why must it take audiotape, and not the testimony of so many lives that have been ruined, for sports nation to act against Donald Sterling?

POPSspot Related:
Donald Sterling’s Discrimination Story Ignored by ESPN and AP

4 Responses to Donald Sterling Racist Recording Fallout: The Only Way to Catch a Billionaire

  1. MCBias says:

    Sigh, it’s a shame that our culture refuses to respond to most stories unless there is audio and video. We’ve become entitled, unwilling to act without juicy media to fawn over. Great point, Modi.

  2. John Hillman says:

    One big problem is the NAACP itself. How could Sterling be a “racist” with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” FROM the NAACP?

    This smacks of a reverse OJ. Getting him for some much smaller because he got away with something much bigger.

  3. terry says:

    everyone has the right to choose, if i don’t want blacks to be at my party, i have the right. where are we headed, blacks take the white people to extreme. freedom of speech is gone!!

  4. Brendon says:

    Still not getting the message. You, as a private person, can decide not to have black people over your house. That has nothing to do with freedom of speech. The Commerce Clause states that if you do business outside of the state, or more than 1 million in sales, you have to abide by anti-discrimination laws. However, the freedom of speech, only pertains to your freedom of protection against the government. Also, this has little to do with just the tape. He’s a criminal. He has never paid his dues, no matter how you stack it up. No, it’s not fair punishment for just a tape, but it is for everything else. As it pertains to the NBA, this was a business decision. It’s not just today’s world, in any era, time, place, dimension, universe, If an organization will lose more from having you than if keeping you, you will be terminated weather it’s something you did or something you say. Please understand the first amendment before stating it again.

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