Sunday, April 27, 2014

The end of Donald Sterling

See Ya
Unless you've been under a rock, you've heard about the audio tape of Clippers owner Donald Sterling with his presumably ex-girl friend, in which the scumbag (allegedly) shows all of the world his repugnant racist stripes. Given the demographic makeup of the NBA, the extraordinary bad timing to sully the sparkling first round of the playoffs with the kind of Bigger Than Game story that the media can't stop discussing, and the fact that everyone kind of hates Sterling already, it seems like a matter of time before the Association takes his team away.

And I actually feel kind of sorry for him.

Now, that amount of pity that I've got is infinitesimal. If Sterling were reported to have been framed somehow in this audio tape, I wouldn't feel sorry for him, because it's not as if he hasn't been a scumbag before this. No, where I feel bad for him is because he's the same exact guy he's always been. But now, when exposed and in the changing environment that is modern multi-cultural and less straight white mail centric America, that's intolerable. And, well, everyone is subject to changing tides ruining your footing.

Listen beyond the racism in that tape, and what you hear is a simple matter of an old white guy with money trying to control his woman. That used to be common, expected, even lauded. Women were deemed to be lesser creatures then men, and if it's OK to judge parents by the actions of their children (well, it's not, but everybody does it), the same went for wives and girlfriends. Sterling's the same racist he's always been, and the same patriarch, and the same misogynist, and the same bullying rich prick. It just took an open mouth to take him down.

Oh, and one other thing. Notice how Sterling says "Don't bring him (Magic Johnson) to my games?" It's not that Johnson is a Laker, or a more successful businessman, or a man who is more respected and loved in the community, that calls out to me in that moment. It's also not even that Sterling can't see Johnson as anything beyond his skin color.

It's the pronoun that gets me.

Not "the" games, which would have been neutral and accurate, not "our" games, which would have been mildly presumptuous but understandable and common... but *my* games. The games that belong to me, because the team belongs to me, because I am lord and master of all that I survey. Hubris writ large.

The very best owners in sports understand this. The game does not belong to you. You are nothing but a caretaker. If you do your job properly, the team and game prospers under your stewardship. If you do your job terribly, they don't, but you can still get bailed out by a rising tide or pure luck. In any event, the game, like life, is bigger than you, and will move on with or without you. There are always going to be more rich people who want to be part of the show, who understand the ridiculous rate of return on being part of a fixed monopoly, and who want the public acclaim. But the team, and the game, will outlive you, and all your money can not change that.

The game belongs to the players, the crowd, the moment, to no one and everyone.

The money?

That's yours, Donald.

At least for now.

P.S. -- Oh, by the way? Sterling's married. With his wife still at court side. Good grief.

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