Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The first round of the NBA playoffs has been thrilling. Very exciting games, several of which have gone into overtime.  And yet the story of the playoffs has been the offensive, insensitive, and ignorant comments of one of the owners.

I often marvel at how businesspeople make money despite themselves. And I have met several fools who are wealthy not because of family wealth, but because-- despite their ignorance-- they have latched onto a business that was lucrative.  On the basis of what I have heard this weekend, Donald Sterling, is one of those fools who have become wealthy despite poor wiring.

Many have commented on Sterling's remarks.  My comments on theirs.

Charles Barkley remarked that Sterling should be suspended. One reason he cited for the suspension is that 80 per cent of the league is black. Sterling should be suspended, yes, but regardless of the percentage of players who are black.  A relatively small percentage of black players are on major league baseball teams. If a baseball owner made similar comments those would be no less egregious.

Mark Cuban said that Sterling has created a problem, but it is not his problem. No, Mark Cuban, this is your problem. It is anyone who has a stake in the NBA's problem including the fans.  This incident has been a distraction from the excellent product that is the NBA.

Anyone who suggests that racism is pervasive is, of course, correct.  Anyone who suggests that because racism is pervasive that somehow justifies racism is incorrect.  There is the argument that all that happened in this instance was that Sterling was exposed/caught and others are just as culpable--they just have not been caught.  It is likely true that others who have not been caught are similarly culpable. This, however, does not exonerate those who have been caught.

I heard Sterling's wife comment that she cannot be sure it is Sterling's voice on the tape. Then I heard Jeff Van Gundy comment that this is implausible.  One need not be especially insightful to agree with Van Gundy.

If there was any information that Sterling could provide that would show that this tape was bogus, it would have been provided.  It is true that due process is essential in our system, but it is also true that individuals can be suspended pending investigations.  If you catch a carpenter stealing while doing construction work in your home, you may not be able to imprison the thief immediately, but you certainly can suspend him from the job no matter how much he squawks that he is innocent.

For the sake of the league and the enjoyment of the fans who would rather focus on the games, the league commissioner-- supported by the unanimous voice of the other owners-- should suspend Sterling.


  1. Hi Zeke
    You posted this before the guillotine fell. The universal sanctimonious condemnation by athletes, politicians, and the press surprised me. I've heard a lot worse from present and past generations. Pathetic but relatively benign pleadings of an already vilified old man with outdated beliefs widely held by many. Sadly the day has come when private conversations can be publicly exploited for profit and vengeance. Our country really has its head buried in the sand. We are so ready to forget the horrors of todays world at home and abroad to focus on Sterling. Who should be suspended and fined and is completely nuts if he doesn't want to sell the Clippers after this fiasco. But he is not a monster and there are plenty of real monsters out there. Sorry to vent but this subject really gets me going. Gene

  2. My feeling is that if you took all of the chorus shouting for Sterling's head and examined their pedigree, 80 per cent of them/us would be as delinquent in terms of discriminating against some group or other. Even among the remaining 20 percent there were likely times that we have overheard insensitive and insidious remarks and not done enough to stifle the speaker. And maybe, sadly, Sterling's remarks are "RELATIVELY benign" which is a comment on how corrosive many comments are. But benign they were not. I agree with you, very much, that the shouting came from many sanctimonious sorts who are as culpable as Sterling if not more so. And those claiming victimization of prejudice--whether it is Jews, Blacks, Gays, or any discriminated group--get no pass on their own prejudices by virtue of being victimized themselves. All that said in agreement, Sterling cannot get a pass on this no matter how many of those who shouted for his head are hypocrites. The injury to a group of people already subjected to daily injuries by ne'er do wells, requires repercussions. It might be nice if some of those who have squawked sanctimoniously get off their high horse and acknowledge their own delinquency now and then. As it relates to high tech/social media, there's a quote that I will likely butcher here but its essence is especially relevant in the 21st century. Goes something like, "Speak as if your pet parrot is the town gossip." Take care, Gene, and thanks again for reading my blogs.